Arunachal witnesses infra push along border after Tawang clash

During the year, the country "speeded up" the process of building adequate infrastructure, particularly border connectivity in the state
Last Updated : 01 January 2023, 08:29 IST
Last Updated : 01 January 2023, 08:29 IST

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Development of infrastructure, ranging from road construction to greenfield airport, took the centre stage in 2022 in Arunachal Pradesh, which was in the news recently following a clash between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of the northeastern state.

During the year, the country "speeded up" the process of building adequate infrastructure, particularly border connectivity in the state, an official said, adding that the showpiece of which is the Arunachal Frontier Highway, one of the country’s "biggest and toughest" projects.

Sources in the defence establishment and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said the frontier highway, a "strategic project, was being sped up in 2022". Work on the project has already started in certain sections with heavy equipment being deployed to fast-track the whole process.

The 2,000-km-long road project, which was objected to by China in the past, will begin from Mago, near Bhutan, and pass through Tawang, Upper Subansiri, Tuting, Mechuka, Upper Siang, Debang Valley, Desali, Chaglagam, Kibithu, Dong, before ending at Vijayanagar near the Myanmar border.

The project will cost at least Rs 40,000 crore.

"Arunachal Frontier Highway, once completed, will enhance capability for the military since it will allow seamless and faster movement of both security personnel and equipment to the border as and when needed," the official said.

There is a proposal to develop corridors, connecting the highway, according to an official at the state highway department.

“It is aimed at giving impetus to the development of villages close to international borders to check migration of residents,” the official said.

Arunachal Pradesh scripted a history in the aviation sector in 2022 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the Rs 645 crore Donyi Polo Airport at Hollongi, the first such airport in the state capital, to boost connectivity, trade and tourism in the hilly state.

There was no airport in the state capital and the closest facility is at Lilabari airport, around 80 km away, in Assam's North Lakhimpur district.

However, there are a few advanced landing ground facilities in the state, including in Pasighat and Tezu.

Flight services from the newly built airport, connecting Kolkata and Mumbai, have already been started by IndiGo, while two more airliners have also expressed interest in starting their operations from the Donyi Polo facility, AAI General Manager Dilip Kumar Sajnani said.

"The Airport Authority of India is hopeful of getting them on board to start operation soon," he added. Another carrier Alliance introduced flight services on two new routes, Dibrugarh-Itanagar-Ziro and the Dibrugarh-Itanagar-Pasighat, in 2022.

With the introduction of flight services, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said Arunachal Pradesh was set to become a land of opportunities.

State Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, who had boarded a flight from Dibrugarh to Itanagar, said, "We are looking forward to having a direct flight from Hollongi to Guwahati and vice-versa for ensuring ease of travel to our people."

The state will have air connectivity with remote border areas, such as Tuting, Mechukha and Vijaynagar, with fixed-wing aircraft in the future, Mein had said.

In another major development witnessed by the state, the Sela tunnel, located at a height of 13,700 feet, being constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is expected to be completed by July 2023, with works going on in full swing, according to chief engineer of Project Vartak Brig Raman Kumar.

The movement through the present Sela Pass road is affected badly due to heavy snowfalls during the winter.

The project includes widening of the existing single-lane road to double from Baisaki and the construction of two tunnels to bypass Sela and a number of hairpin bends.

Two tunnels of 475 m and 1790 m of length through the Sela-Chabrela ridge that divides West Kameng from Tawang district are being built to meet the existing Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road on the Nuranang side, reducing a distance by around 8-9 km and travel time by at least an hour.

Once built, the Sela tunnel will be the longest bi-lane tunnel in the world.

Published 01 January 2023, 08:29 IST

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