Kohima, Sept 18 (IANS): Vice President M Hamid Ansari said the importance of bamboo has increased in the backdrop of global concerns of ecology and environment and the looming threat of global warming and climate change.
"Bamboo is emerging as the most viable wood substitute," Ansari said, while addressing the first ever World Bamboo Day function at Naga heritage village Kisama, near Nagaland capital Kohima.
The Vice President said that unlike steel and plastic, bamboo is eco-friendly, being not only biodegradable but also having enormous capacity to sequester carbon.
"As the fastest growing plant on earth, it is a renewable resource with short gestation. This new perspective of bamboo is indeed a big change from its earlier reference as the poor man's timber," said Ansari, who was the chief guest at the function.
Several events marked the World Bamboo Day celebrated in northeastern State of Nagaland to highlight the importance of bamboo, also known as "green gold of forest" for its over 1,500 applications.
A week-long International Bamboo Festival began here on Thursday with a seminar on 'Bamboo for livelihood and community development', an investors' meet and a craft bazaar among other events.
The Vice President said: "In order to realize the full potential of bamboo, various technical, financial and entrepreneurial interventions are needed in the fields of forestry, land use, propagation technology for its (bamboo) cultivation and sustainable use and industry and finance."
"In the context of Indian economy, the market size of bamboo related sectors is expected to touch a figure of Rs 42,000 crore in the next 15-20 years," he said.
The function was organised by the Nagaland government in collaboration with the US-based World Bamboo Organisation (WBO).
WBO president Kamesh Salam said: "This year World Bamboo Day was observed with a variety of events including seminars all over the world with special celebrations in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Israel, Nicaragua, the UK and the US - all bamboo growing nations."
On the occasion, five renowned bamboo pioneers from India who contributed to the growth of the bamboo sector were honoured.
The main World Bamboo Day function in Kohima was attended by over 500 participants from around the world.
Nagaland Governor Nikhil Kumar and Chief Minister Niephiu Rio were among others present in the functions.
Of the 1,250 bamboo species throughout the world, India has 145. Bamboo forests in India occupy approximately 10.03 million hectares, which constitutes almost 12.8 percent of the total forest area of the country. About 28 percent of these bamboo forests are located in northeast India.