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December 20, 1999
Dong in Arunachal will herald millennium dawn
Dong in Arunachal Pradesh -- and not Katchal in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands -- will welcome the first rays of the sun in the next millennium in the country.
According to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Katchal in Andaman and Nicobar may be the landmass in the whole world to receive the first rays of the sun on January 1, but going by the Indian Standard Time it is actually Dong in northeastern Arunachal Pradesh which will welcome the millennium in mainland India, scientists in Guwahati say.
Dong is a small pristine valley of breathtaking beauty near Wanglong in Lohit district of the state. The Survey of India officials confirm that Dong being located further east than Katchal, dawn will break over the former ahead of the Nicobar island, which incidentally is being hyped as the destination of the millennium.
There are no motorable roads to Dong and even Wanglong is difficult to reach. But its natural beauty is beyond comparison. The state government officials, when contacted expressed complete ignorance of this rare opportunity to promote tourism in the virgin valley at the foothills of the Himalayas and a paradise for trekking.
According to G C Das, in-charge of the Guwahati office of the Survey of India, Dong is located at 97 degrees longitude and 28 degrees latitude while Katchal is located at 93.30 degrees longitude and a latitude of eight degrees.
Renowned astrologer R P Sharma said dawn will break over Dong at 0554 hours and 11 seconds on January 1, 2000 while the Royal Greenwich Observatory in their Internet site said Katchal will receive the first rays of the sun at 0600 hours -- almost six minutes later than Dong.
Meanwhile, the sparsely populated Katchal island is gearing up to receive tourists. The island is 230 nautical miles from Port Blair and measures 174 square kilometres in area and has an altitude of 835 on the eastern side.
The tourism ministry has taken precautions considering the fragile ecology of the island and its strategic positioning. One ferry ship 'Swarajdeep' carrying 300 passengers will leave Port Blair to Katchal for the dawning of the third millennium.
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