GUWAHATI: Cooking gas has wended its way to the “disconnected” Vijaynagar circle of Arunachal Pradesh on the Myanmar border, 57 years after the first Indane LPG connection in India was introduced on October 22, 1965 in Kolkata.
Two days ago, an agency, based in the Miao subdivision of Changlang district, delivered LPG cylinders to 15 families in Vijaynagar, 157 km away.
Minister Kamlung Mossang said the service fulfilled a long-felt need of the people.
“They rely entirely on firewood for cooking and they faced a lot of hardship,s especially during the rainy season. The government is committed to the well-being of the people in each and every corner of the state,” Mossang claimed, adding. “With the arrival of road infrastructure, Vijaynagar will soon get a facelift.”
Antu Ngemu, the gas dealer, said the consumers were overjoyed. Nearly 500 others applied for the LPG connection but their documents are yet to reach the agency.
“We haven’t been able to extend the service to them due to issues, including logistics and documentations. Even for one bank transaction, you have to wait for several days,” Antu said.
Usina Yobin said her father was so ecstatic that he called her up to break the news of the arrival of the red cylinders.
“He received the cylinders, not the oven which will be delivered soon, but that couldn’t take away his joy,” Usina told The New Indan Express from Jairampur in the district where she was married off in 2019.
The BSNL arrived in Vijaynagar in 2020 but one will get through only if lucky. This reporter could not reach any of the LPG consumers despite multiple attempts.
After her wedding, Usina had to walk for over 100 km and five days along with her husband and others until reaching a road where she hopped into a car to go to his house. While they walked, they had to take shelter at the houses of villagers.
“Life is very difficult in Vijaynagar. The locals will walk for 15-20 km to go to a forest to collect firewood,” she said.
Spread across 8,000 sq km, Vijaynagar was discovered in 1961 by the Assam Rifles during an expedition “Srijit II”. It was carried out under the leadership of Major General AS Guraya, the then Inspector General of the country’s oldest paramilitary force. He had named the valley after his son, Vijay.
Some 4,400 locals are prisoners of geography. A finger-like protrusion surrounded on three sides by Myanmar and on one side by Namdapha Tiger Reserve, the Vijaynagar circle is one of the remotest locations in India.
For decades, helicopters were the only mode of transport. Now, vehicles have started carrying supplies, thanks to a road. The 157-km long project, which will connect Vijaynagar with Miao, is nearing completion. It takes around seven hours to reach Vijaynagar from Miao.
“Nearly 90% of the road is complete. Only blacktopping is left. It’s a GSB (granular sub base) road for 130 km. That area is prone to landslides, so disruptions are common,” District Magistrate Sunny K Singh said.
There is an off-grid power system but it does not function regularly as Vijaynagar witnesses rains throughout the year. Three-four years ago, the rural households were electrified under Saubhagya scheme. The batteries have drained out since.
“We are going to start a 50 KW hydropower plant in March next year. It will cater to Vijaynagar. We will also do something for (adjoining) Gandhinagar,” Singh said.
“Earlier, the locals were required to store ration. Porters would bring the essentials (after 7-10 days trek) and charge Rs 100 per kg for labour. As such, the commodities were expensive. For example, salt was sold at Rs 300 a kg,” he added.