ITANAGAR: The Central government may officially call it India-China border but for Arunachal, the neighbouring region remains Tibet, occupied by China.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu categorically stated that his state shares a border with Tibet, not China.
“It is a fact that Arunachal does not share a direct border with China. The direct border is with Tibet. Nobody can erase history,” Khandu told The New Indian Express on Tuesday in an interview.
“It’s a different thing that China occupied Tibet. The world knows it,” he added.
With a hostile neighbour breathing down India's neck, the Centre is boosting road infrastructure in the Himalayan Arunachal. Detailed project reports (DPRs) of two highways have been either prepared or will be prepared. One of the projects is “Frontier Highway” which will run along the international border.
Given Beijing’s claim that Arunachal is a part of China’s southern Tibet region, foreign institutions – World Bank and Asian Development Bank included – do not extend loans to the state. Khandu admitted this was hurting his state.
“This is a very big hurdle in terms of development. Their interest rate is very low. Other states get foreign funds to the tune of thousands of crores. But Arunachal has remained deprived. It received no foreign funding till date,” Khandu said.
He said the Centre had discussed this issue and stressed that Arunachal must be given special attention. This led to the up-gradation of eight 1962-built advanced landing grounds and the construction of 1,600 km long Trans-Arunachal Highway. The work for Trans-Arunachal Highway is progressing well despite geographical challenges, the CM said.
The highway will pass through all districts. Presently, one is required to travel via Assam to go from one corner of the state to another.
“With Tibet, we share a border of over 1,100 km. The road is on priority for troops movement. We have two other important projects -- Frontier Highway and East-West Industrial Corridor. Through the construction of Frontier Highway, we aim to connect the border areas. We already had some meetings with the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA is helping us with funds...
“The DPR of East-West Industrial Corridor, which will connect east of Arunachal with the west of Arunachal, has been prepared. It will be sent to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway for funds approval. As regards the Frontier Highway, the Central government will decide if MHA, Ministry of Rural Development or Defence Ministry will fund it. The highway will have some tunnels,” Khandu said.
Earlier, the Centre had approved a project for railhead to the India-China border town of Tawang from Missamari in Assam.
Khandu said Arunachal is a resourceful state but communication -- be it road, railway, air or even digital connectivity -- is the biggest bottleneck.
“Railway has reached. Further surveys are on. Road infrastructure is being built. So, the situation is improving. Once we can boost road infrastructure, investments will increase,” the CM said.
He said tourism had been Arunachal's focus area of investment. Every region of the state is picturesque. Similarly, agriculture and the allied sectors have huge potentials, he said.
“We also have hydropower potentials. Recently, I wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji stating that it is important to promote Arunachal through investments. Under ‘Invest India’, we had a series of meetings. We were told a special desk will be created for Arunachal for investments. We will assess in which sectors we need investments,” Khandu said.
He said as tribal societies live with nature, the state government was exploring non-polluting industries. The government will not tie up with industries which cause pollution, he added.