Natural resources of Assam
Natural resources are substances that exist naturally in the earth and were not made by human beings. It is an actual or potential form of wealth supplied by nature, as coal, oil, waterpower, arable land, etc. Assam is as fully abundant in natural resources as she is adorned with natural beauty.
The natural resources of Assam can be categorized as follows:
· Mineral resources
· Forest resources
· Agricultural resources and
· Water resources
Assam is a land full of mineral resources. Assam is rich in mineral resources, which are providing raw materials to industries. The most important mineral resource of Assam is petroleum oil. Assam can take pride in her crude petroleum oil fields located at Digboi, Naharkatia, Moran, Lakua, Hugrijan, Glaki and Rudrasagar. The Digboi oil refinery is the oldest refinery of Asia.
Another significant mineral resource of Assam is coal. The coal known as ‘black diamond’ is an important mineral resource of Assam. Some important coalfields of Assam are located at Nazira, Makum, Margharita, Lido, Borgolai, and Tipong etc.
Limestone with reserves of about 500 million tones is another important resource and is available in various grades. The China clay available in the Karbi-Anglong district is a vital input for the ceramics industry and has already spawned a few small plants. Deposits of decorative stone like granite estimated to be more than a billion cubic meters are available in various shades and colours, which have a huge market potential locally and abroad. From the ancient times particulars of gold have been extracted from the bed of Subansiri.
Assam has a rich forest cover encompassing nearly a quarter of its land area. Assam’s forest cover is about one-third of its total geographical area. There are about 74 species of timber, of which two-thirds are commercially exploited. On the hills, at the foothills and in the plains one abundantly finds numerous varieties of valuable trees such as sal, agaroo, bansum, sonaru, teak etc. these trees are valuable because of their usefulness. They provide plank and timber for building houses and for making various types of furniture. Bamboo is the best natural engineering material on this planet. Bamboo and cane are absolutely necessary for paper mill industry. On the basis of their availability, paper mills have been set up at Jogighopa, Jagiroad and Panchagram. Reeds and straw are also found in the forest of Assam, which are widely used in building houses and cottages, particularly in the rural areas. There are various types of medicinal herbs and plants identified and unidentified are also found in the forest of Assam.
The Kaziranga National Park in the state is the dwelling place for the endangered great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Kaziranga is one of the most famous wildlife refuges in the country. The forests provide dwelling place to a large population of wild animals such as elephants, tigers, deer, buffalos, monkeys, various snakes and wild pigs etc and birds such as peacock, cuckoos, maina, vulture, parrot, goose swan etc.
Agriculture plays the chief role of revenue earning in Assam economy. Assam experiences plenty of rainfall and possesses a fertile land, which is extremely advantageous for cropping. This has led to the flourishing growth in food crops and staples in Assam agriculture. Assam is most famous for tea industry. Assam is one of the leading producers of tea in the world. Eri, muga and pat industry of Assam has earned international reputation. These industries are mainly located in Sualkuchi. Assam agriculture is now focusing on horticulture segment of the state. Horticultural crops of Assam agriculture such as coconut, citrus, banana, black pepper, and papaya have been placed on the priority list.
The Barak and Brahamaputra rivers with their innumerable tributaries are the sources of water for Assam. These rivers supply water for growing different crops. The rivers and ‘beels’ of Assam are the treasure houses of various species of fishes and turtles. Some of the tributaries of Brahmaputra are suitable for hydroelectric power generation. The principle tributaries of the Brahmaputra are Dibang, Luhit, Subansiri, Manas, Tista, Dhansiri and Champawati. The Barak sub-basin in Assam also has a good Hydropower potential.
In spite of these abundant resources Assam is still a poor state with very slow pace of industrialization. Efforts on the part of the people of Assam as well as the government are necessary for the proper utilization of the resources of Assam.