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Industries - small, medium and large - were conspicuous by their absence in Tripura till about 1950. The almost isolated geographical location of the state and lack of power and communication facilities have proved to be the major handicap for the development of industries in the state. Tripura's handicrafts in structure, beauty and variety is of great demand outside. Tripura Handloom and Handicraft Development Corporation Ltd has taken up marketing of the handicrafts in a big way and is exploring the possibilities of exporting its products. For improving the design and quality of the products the All- India Handicraft Board has set up a research unit at Agartala. About 5000 craftsmen are now engaged in production of handicrafts (mainly cane and bamboo) products. Handloom weaving is the single largest industry. It is essentially a tribal household industry. Another age-old industry of the state is silk. This industry is now confined to one small village in the suburb of Agartala town. The Seri culture industry is developing fast. During the reign of Maharaja Birendrakishore Manikya (1909-23), a school was opened at Agartala for giving training in Seri-cultural weaving. The area under mulberry cultivation is about 500 hectares and production of cocoon is estimated to be 5000 Kg per year. Besides loin looms occupy the pride of place in the local industry of Tripura. A jute mill set up in Agartala under public sector produces about 20 tonnes of jute products per day and employs about 2000 persons. Tripura is abundant in natural gas and a number of gas-based industries have sprung up. Foundation has been laid for a Rs.126 crore methanol project of the state owned Tripura petro-chemicals Ltd. There are 809 small scale industrial units in Tripura. In recent years the government has taken significant steps to educate the rural people in the technique of the industry so that the industry could be of real benefit to the rural people. The North-Eastern council...