Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday dedicated to the nation the Pasighat advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh which will allow fighter aircraft like Su 30 MKI to land and take off, in a major fillip to India's military capabilities along its border with China.
Terming it a red letter day in the history of the state, Rijiju said with the formal inauguration of the ALG that is capable of operating all types of aircraft and helicopters after Tezpur and Chabua, development process has started in the state which was lagging behind even after 70 years of independence.
Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Air Command, who was present on the occasion said, "The ALG would enhance air support capability for the Army, paramilitary forces and the civil administration and would facilitate air connectivity for the people of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the country."
Pasighat ALG is a strategic asset and would be one of the operating bases under the Eastern Air Command capable of operating all types of aircraft and helicopters, Easterm Air Command spokesperson said.
Activation of this ALG would not only improve the response time for various operational situations but also the efficacy of the air operations in the eastern frontier.
The Union Minister of State for Home said, "The Northeast region abundant with rich natural resources is lagging behind in terms of development due to various reasons and the NDA government at the Centre is committed for its development on par with other parts of the country."
"The Northeast, a jewel in the country's crown was known to the rest of the country only after the 1962 Chinese aggression," he said.
Rijiju added that the commitment of the Centre was proved after Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed all the ministers to personally visit the region along with departmental officers to oversee the requirements.
Stating that there would be no dearth of development fund for the state, the Union minister asked the state government to judiciously utilise all the Central funds without compromising on the quality of work and time line.
"There should be a close coordination between the Centre and the state government to remove the 'under-developed' tag of Arunachal," Rijiju said.
A flypast by three Sukhoi-30 MKI Air Dominance Fighters, which took off from Chabua airbase in Tinsukia district of Assam, was the major attraction of the function.
Out of the three Sukhois, one piloted by Group Captain Satbir Singh and co-piloted by Mustaq Ahmed, landed at the ALG for the first time bringing cheers among the people of the centurion town in East Siang district.
The ALG at Pasighat was earlier partly paved and partly grassy, and smaller in size.
To bolster the operational capability in the eastern part of the state, IAF took over the ALG in February 2010 and started the aviation infrastructure development.
The ALG was earlier utilised for air maintenance sorties and casualty evacuation by the IAF.
Commercial helicopter operations were also undertaken from the helipads that existed earlier at the ALG.
The new runway surface and other infrastructure built were similar to the other upgraded ALGs that have been inaugurated in recent months.
Equipped with facilities such as aprons for ground manouevering, Air Traffic Control Tower, perimeter road and a security wall, the ALG would facilitate operations of fixed wing aircraft as well as helicopters of both civil and military operators.
The Arunachal Pradesh government had in June 2009 inked an MoU with the defence ministry and accordingly IAF had embarked on an ambitious construction plan to upgrade eight ALGs in the state, including infrastructure development at an overall outlay of over Rs 1,000 crore.
The ALGs at Walong, Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Pasighat have since been upgraded and are operational now.
Two other ALGs at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by the year end while the one at Vijaynagar would be undertaken for reconstruction as soon as the road connectivity between Miao and Vijaynagar is restored, Easterm Air Command spokesperson said.
The runways of all the ALGs in the state are between 3,500 to 4,200 feet.
Pasighat is the oldest town in the state founded in 1911 by the British for the administration of the far-flung areas of the greater Abor Hills and other places which were inaccessible and bereft of basic facilities and communication.
The town which has come a long way now is the only town from the state selected for development as a smart city.
IMAGE: An IAF Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet parked at the Pasighat advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: Ministry of Defence