India�s new approach of ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) programme constitutes a massive opportunity for the nation and for the state of Assam as a renewable source of energy to be used as mixed fuel for automobiles in a phased manner. In this context, it was a privilege for me to go through a well-researched and well-written article, titled �Sugar mills and the future of rural Assam� by Digen Barua, published in The Assam Tribune on October 7 last. Barua�s estimation of ethanol-blended petrol of 148 billion litres valued at Rs 4,92,300 crore is mind boggling. It means that the country will not require to import any petroleum products in the future if his idea is honestly implemented.
It can be a boon for the economic development of Assam, if the present Assam Government and the Central Government work out a master plan in this context. Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s strong desire of making NE the engine for growth of the country and Assam as the �Ashta Lakshmi� of the region, might get fulfilled, once both the governments take a pragmatic view on the issue.
It may be pertinent in this context to recall how Assam�s silk industry of pat, muga, mejankori during the rule of the Ahom kings and the multi-billion pound tea industry established by the British earned huge foreign exchange, earmarking much higher GDP. I highly appreciate Barua�s intimate approach in focusing on the establishment of sugar mills in rural Assam for industrial development and the economic well-being of the rural people of Assam.
At this point of time, I feel it is my duty to inform the readers that Late Debeswar Goswami (1854-1929) was a pioneering sugar industrialist of Assam, who had established the first sugar mill named �Barpather Sugarcane Farm� at Golaghat way back in 1902. The Chairman of the Sugar Commissions of India, Lord Linlithgow (who became the Governor General of India later) visited the Dhubri Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition in 1910 (Jibon Sowaran by Tarak Ch Goswami, published in 1982). He acclaimed Debeswar Goswami as the pioneer sugar industrialist of Assam and as a token of honour awarded a silver medal (which is still in my custody till now) to Debeswar Goswami in 1910. Debeswar Goswami carried forward the arduous task of making jaggery by extracting sugarcane juice with 15 pairs of buffalo-driven crushers, produced khandsari sugar by the �Hadi� process and finally produced crystalline sugar with the help of imported steam driven roller crushing mill, vertical boiler and centrifugal machine from Nottingham, England in 1912. Debeswar Goswami�s grit and determination in establishing the first sugar mill in Assam, needs no exaggeration. The sugar mill was in business from 1902-1929 and this saga should serve as an inspiration for our present day youths.
Pandit Hem Chandra Goswami, attending as the president of the Asom Chatra Sanmmilan, at Tezpur in 1922, referred to the diligent efforts of Debeswar Goswami in producing sugar at the Barpather Sugarcane Farm.
Thus, the idea of Digen Barua put forward in the afore-mentioned article deserves all praise and support from the people of Assam. It is likely to draw a parallel to the growth of the small tea gardens in Assam and improve our rural economy.