New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind today said bamboo has been excluded from the category of tree, thus allowing it to be cut, transported and used, benefiting lakhs of people in the Northeast. Also Read - Assam Assembly Election 2021: Congress Releases First Candidate List Full of Fresh Faces

In his maiden address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, Kovind said lakhs of people in tribal areas, especially in the Northeastern region, depend on the bamboo industry. Also Read - Watch: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Dances 'Jhumur' With Young Performers in Assam

“The inclusion of bamboo in the category of tree had adversely affected livelihoods associated with it. Keeping in mind these difficulties, my government has excluded bamboo from the category of tree. This has now provided freedom to cut, transport and use bamboo,” he said. Also Read - Assam Assembly Election 2021: Check Voting Date In Your Constituency And Full Schedule

Kovind said the minimum support price of several forest produce collected by tribal people had also been increased.

Referring to the NDA government’s objective of taking the benefits of development to every part of the country, the president said it was working with sensitivity to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Northeast.

“To accelerate the pace of development of this area, the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme was sanctioned recently, with 100 per cent central assistance.

Under this scheme, projects relating to drinking water supply, energy, education and health will be completed,” he said.

To strengthen electricity transmission and distribution network in the Northeastern states, Kovind said the government sanctioned schemes worth Rs 10,000 crore in the last three years.

He said in Mizoram, a hydro-electric power project constructed at a cost of Rs 913 crore was dedicated to the nation recently and the government was striving to enhance road connectivity in the Northeast.

“The work on the Agartala-Akhaura rail-link which will connect India and Bangladesh is progressing rapidly. The Shillong Tura road project was dedicated to the people last year in December,” he said.

The president said this road would improve connectivity in the entire Northeastern region.

Last year, the longest river-bridge of the country, Dhola-Sadiyaa, was dedicated to the nation, he said.

The bridge has reduced distance between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by 165 kilometers.

Kovind said the government has also decided to develop the Barak river in Assam as National Waterway-16.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.