PM announces package of over Rs.14 bn for Arunachal

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS

Itanagar : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced a whopping Rs.14.52 billion financial package to the frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh with maximum emphasis on infrastructure development, electrification in rural areas, besides putting the state on India’s railway map.

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“In the next two years, all villages in border areas (with China, Bhutan, and Myanmar) would get electricity connection through solar power involving an amount of Rs.5.5 billion,” Singh told a public rally in capital Itanagar attended by about 20,000 people.

Singh arrived in the capital on a two-day state visit, the first prime minister to visit the state in the last one decade.

He said the central government has prepared a roadmap for overall development of the state and was committed to developing the frontier region in all sectors.

“As a step forward to improving connectivity, we have decided to set up a greenfield airport in Itanagar, besides making operational small airports in four other district headquarters,” the prime minister said.

A daily helicopter service between Assam’s main city of Guwahati and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China’s Tibet region, would also be introduced soon, the prime minister said.

“Considering the fact that road connectivity is a major problem, we have decided to construct a 1,840 km Trans-Arunachal Highway from Tawang and cutting through the entire state for better surface communication,” Singh said.

“All villages would be made motorable and capital Itanagar would have a four-lane highway, while district headquarters would have a two-lane road. Some 500 villages that do not have accessibility would now have road connectivity.”

The prime minister also announced a Rs.5 billion package for flood protection, aimed at constructing embankments and other measures.

“I am also happy to announce Rs.100 million for the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital in Itanagar and an additional Rs.400 million for the same hospital through funds from the Planning Commission, besides Rs.770 million for a drinking water supply scheme for 80,000 people in and around Itanagar,” Singh said.

“Each and every village in the state would now have facilities for pure drinking water.”

The prime minister also announced a Rs.2.75 billion package to complete several half-done centrally-aided projects in the state.

The prime minister earlier inaugurated two power projects – the 3,000 MW Dibang multipurpose project and the 110 MW Pare hydroelectric project at Doimukh on the outskirts of the city, besides laying the foundation stone for a permanent complex of the state legislative assembly and the civil secretariat.

“Arunachal Pradesh would soon emerge as India’s powerhouse if the potentials are harnessed,” Singh said.

The prime minister, however, refrained from mentioning about the controversial border row with China.

The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030 kilometre unfenced border with China.

The McMohan Line, now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh.

The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.

The border dispute with China was inherited by India from British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments that demarcated the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.

China has never recognized the 1914 boundary, and claims 90,000 square kilometres – nearly all-of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 square kilometres in Kashmir.

The prime minister is visiting army bases in Arunachal Pradesh Friday before leaving for New Delhi.