Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC). In other words, she is a well-deserving candidate, and is expected to deliver her new assignment efficiently. But what about substantive, not symbolic, deliveries for the North East region? In the backdrop of China’s continuous claim over Arunachal Pradesh and its recent unprovoked intrusion into its Chaglagam area of the Indian state, BoI picks out five points to ponder on Arunachal Pradesh.
1) Does not it sound odd that the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh has no airport on its own, as we are celebrating the completion of 66 years of India’s independence? Only on August 6, 2013, minister of state for civil aviation KC Venugopal informed Rajya Sabha that the government plans to build an airport at Itanagar along with 16 other places such as Kushinagar in UP, Deoghar in Rajasthan, Hassan in Karnataka, and Mopa in Goa during the 12th Plan period. The question remains, will it be delivered on time?
2) Sample this: The 20-km-long Harmuti (Assam)-Naharlagun (near Itanagar of Arunachal Pradesh) train link was sanctioned way back in 1996-97. By the way, it’s 2013 now. The work is still on! According to initial estimates, it would cost Rs 156 crore which got revised to Rs 317.33 crore later. It was also planned that the rail line would eventually be extended by another 13 km, till Arunachal Pradesh’s capital city -- Itanagar. In 2009, that plan was abandoned and the rail link would now be terminated at Naharlagun. After shifting the deadline several times, the current deadline for completing this meagre 20-km-long rail link is March 2014!
3) For years, New Delhi was not doing much for building infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh, the unwritten reason being China's possible objection to it. Thus, the common people in some areas of the state were left with no option but to go for a 30-km walk for getting the essential items. Even bureaucrats who had served that region are actually unsung heroes. There are instances of babus walking for miles to arrange official meetings and preparing voting booths.
4) When China increased its infrastructure along the McMahon line during the last one decade, India too decided to go aggressive on double-laning of roads in Arunachal Pradesh, essential also for strategic reasons. About 2,000-km of double-laning of roads mainly to increase the inter-connectivity of the state’s 14 district headquarters, was identified in 2007 under a plan called Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP-NE). But unlike China, India’s zeal remained mostly on papers as the survey is not yet complete in many of those road-improvement projects. Only in Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road, 117 out of 317 km roads have been improved to double-lane. When India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talked about “our land of the rising sun” at a public rally in Arunachal in 2009, China officially objected to it, calling the Indian state a disputed area. In this backdrop, New Delhi should ideally pay extra attention to the area and make it a point to complete the projects well ahead of time.
5) Finally, New Delhi should not take the people of Arunachal Pradesh for granted. In fact, ordinary people of Arunachal Pradesh feel proud of the fact that they are Indians. When insurgency groups in various parts of the North-East are spreading anti-India venom, it is Arunachal which has remained an island of peace for decades, and its people are not yet brainwashed. Also, among the North-Easterners, the people of Arunachal can speak Hindi the best and can communicate with the rest of India at ease. Three years ago, former state chief minister and Rajya Sabha MP Mukut Mithi made it a point to deliver a 15-minute-long Hindi speech in Parliament!
New Delhi, don’t let down those who are proud Indians.