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PM announces Rs 1,000 crore package for Arunachal
Amitabha Roy Chowdhury in Itanagar | January 31, 2008 15:28 IST
Last Updated: January 31, 2008 17:31 IST
Close on the heels of his visit to China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Thursday sent out a veiled message to the Communist nation that Arunachal Pradesh is India's land of the rising sun.
"The sun kisses India first in Arunachal Pradesh. It is our land of rising sun," he said while addressing a public meeting in Itanagar on the first day of his maiden visit to this border state. China has often claimed parts of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory.
Asserting that the United Progressive Alliance government accorded the highest priority to the development of Arunachal Pradesh, Singh expressed confidence that the north eastern state would emerge as one of the best regions of the country.
He announced several schemes, including two power projects at Pare and Dibang, and provision of electricity to every household in the state.
Underlining that a strategy has been evolved by the Centre for all-round development of the state, Singh said the thrust areas would be to establish rail, road and air connectivity, development of infrastructure, education and health care facilities.
"I sincerely hope that like the Sun, Arunachal Pradesh will rise from the East as a new star and become one of the best regions of our country," he said while addressing a public meeting in Hindi.
The prime minister also announced that Arunachal will get a new green field airport in Itanagar besides airports at Passi Ghat, Along, Daporijo, Ziro and Tizu.
Dr Singh noted that a direct helicopter service between Guwahati and Tawang would also begin soon.
On Wednesday, the Union cabinet cleared the helicopter service that the Centre would be subsidising up to 75 per cent of the operating cost. He said the defence ministry would also upgrade infrastructure at several areas including Pasi Ghat and Vijai Nagar.
A trans-Arunachal highway, a drinking water scheme and a new secretariat building were among other projects announced by Dr Singh, who had visited the state in 1986 as the deputy chairman of the planning commission.
He had then visited border area Tawang, where he will not travel this time. He ate a trout fish from there at lunch. Observing that steps would be taken by the Centre in accordance with its broad strategy, the prime minister said, "It is only through these measures and through all-round development of Arunachal Pradesh that we can ensure that the nation moves ahead in steps towards a glorious future."
He said Arunchal Pradesh was rich in water resources and had immense potential in hydro-power. It could generate Rs 300 crore in revenue annually only through Dibang power project, which he inaugurated on Thursday.
"If we build similar projects across the state, then the state can generate annual revenue of Rs 3,000-4,000 crore. This simple step can change the fortune of the state," the prime minister said.
Talking about move to ensure electrification of all households in the state, Singh said Rs 550 crore would be spent on utilising solar power, micro hydro projects and grid-based power to cover all border villages as well as others.
"This will be done in two years," he said.
He also announced a new rail link between Itanagar and Harmuti to provide more economical and speedy access to destinations outside the state.
The government would build a two-lane trans-Arunachal Pradesh highway covering 1840 km connecting Tawang to Mahadevpur and passing through areas like Bomdi La, Ziro, Daparijo, Along, Pasighat and Changlang.
"This will be a priority project costing Rs 5500 crore. It will be a flagship highway and one of the most important new-road projects to be taken up by my government. In three to four years, we will connect Itanagar with a four-lane highway," he said.
Regarding damages caused by regular floods, he said the Centre would give Rs 400 crore for the reconstruction of areas damaged by flood.
The planning commission would also give Rs 265 crore this year for the completion of the incomplete projects.
"I believe that the progress and development of the state like Arunachal Pradesh is the measure of the progress and development of the nation as a whole. Your progress will strengthen the nation."
The prime minister also visited the Ramkrishna Mission hospital after which he announced grant of Rs 10 crore from his relief fund for the hospital to strengthen the facilities.
He said he would also ask the planning commission and DONER (Development of North East Region) to provide Rs 30-40 crore help to the hospital.
"We (the government) will provide educational facilities for your children. We will improve your connectivity. We will help you preserve your unique identity and culture. This is the beauty of our nation. Our nation is built on the idea of unity in diversity. This is also what gives us strength as a nation," Dr Singh said.