Giving strategic interests a further push, the Centre is exploring feasibility to connect Sino-India border district Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh with the railway network. The Centre has asked Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is also an MP from Arunachal West seat, to explore the feasibility of the rail network in the remote area.
The two ministers will tour the state on Saturday to study the viability of connecting Tawang with Bhalukpong which is the last station of Indian Railways on Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. Sinha and Rijiju will be visiting Arunachal Pradesh from April 1 in connection with commencement of final location survey of new broad gauge line connecting Bhalukpong with Tawang which is a distance of 378 kilometres.
It takes 18 hours from Guwahati in Assam to reach Tawang through road. Guwahati is the nearest major city and citizens of Tawang depend on it for any medical emergency. Other new broad guage railway lines which will be part of the survey will be 249-kilometre North Lakhimpur-Bame -Silapathar which is between Pasighat airport and Rupa in Arunachal Pradesh.
Sinha and Rijiju will also be meeting citizens, elected representatives and senior railway officers during the visit. Tawang is of immense strategic importance to India as it is located on the Sino-India border and China has been laying claim to it. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Tibet and routinely objects to any visit by top Indian leaders, officials and diplomats to the area.
It had recently objected to a proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh. The government has said the Dalai Lama is going to visit the state as a religious leader and there is no reason to stop him as his followers are demanding he should come. Tawang was one of the regions where Indian Army had come under attack from China in the 1962 war.
Ignoring China's protests, the government had earlier allowed then US ambassador to India Richard Verma and Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's visit to Arunachal Pradesh last year.