Arunachal air strip operational once again

Walong functional eight years after govt decision

Arunachal air strip operational once again

Almost eight years after the government decided to reactivate several air strips close to China border in the North-East, the first one has become operational in Walong in Arunachal Pradesh.

On Friday, the advanced landing ground (ALG) at Walong was inaugurated by Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Air Command, in the presence of senior officials from the IAF and the Army.

Walong ALG was operational during 1962 Chinese aggression, after which it remained abandoned for a long time till the government agreed to reactivate it along with several other ALGs in the North-East for quicker troop movements in case of an emergency. The ALGs are being repaired for full-fledged fixed wing aircraft operation.

“Almost 50 per cent work is complete on the remaining ALGs and all of them would be made operational by the end of 2016,” said a top IAF official. The IAF officer's hope contradicts a recent government assessment that suggests that Ziro is the only other ALG (besides Walong) where considerable progress have been made in the repair work.

Little progress has been made in Passighat, Mechuka, Along, Tuting and Tawang, at least till the middle of 2015. The least work, just 12 per cent, was done in Tawang, where there is a sizable presence of the Indian Army. The Walong ALG will supply equipment and ration to the troops posted in far flung areas besides providing air support in tackling natural calamities and casualties evacuation.

Under the supervision of the Eastern Air Command in Shilong, part of the delay in executing the ALG projects is their difficult locations and natural obstacles in sustaining supply of material and machinery.

The defence ministry plans to reactive these ALGs to operate the Indian Air Force’s C-130J and the upgraded AN-32. But barring Vijaynagar, where an AN-32 landed in November, 2011, there is little success in the North-East so far.

IAF flights to Vijaynagar were discontinued in 2009 due to poor condition of the runway made out of pierced steel plate sheets. But when the Centre decided to reactivate the advanced landing, extensive repair work was undertaken to make it operational.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry