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Trans-state highway in Arunachal by 2013, assures PM
PASIGHAT (ARUNACHAL PRADESH), OCT 3 (IANS):
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Published on 4 Oct. 2009 1:40 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said a Rs.125 billion trans-state highway in Arunachal Pradesh would be completed by 2013, a step that would boost infrastructure in the strategic northeastern state bordering China. “The Trans-Arunachal Highway, rail and air connectivity, and construction of two small hydro projects would meet the requirement of many remote areas, specially villages located on border areas, suffering from isolation,” Manmohan Singh said, addressing an election rally at Pasighat in East Siang district. “The highway would be completed by 2013 and would go a long way in boosting infrastructure in the region. I like to assure you once again that the Congress government is committed to the overall development of Arunachal Pradesh,” he said. The 1,840 km long Trans-Arunachal Pradesh highway would link 11 district headquarters, while an additional 847 km of roads would connect the remaining five district headquarters in the state. Elections to the 60-member legislature is scheduled for Oct 13, although voting would be for 57 seats with three ruling Congress party candidates already declared elected unopposed. The highway construction project was announced in February 2008 by the prime minister during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh as part of a development package by New Delhi for the geographically isolated frontier state. Poor roads and infrastructure, especially roads along the border areas, have become major election issues with both the ruling Congress candidates and the opposition demanding better road facilities in the border areas in view of repeated reports of Chinese incursions. “We want roads to be developed so as to facilitate easy movement of locals as well as troops in the border areas. The highway project would surely go a long way in improving connectivity in the state,” Congress MP from the state Takam Sanjay said. The prime minister’s visit to the state comes amid reports of heavy troop deployment in the border areas in Arunachal Pradesh following the latest round of hiccups over Chinese intrusion in the Jammu and Kashmir sector, besides Bejing’s opposition to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with China. The two countries had fought a bitter war in 1962 with the Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian soldiers. China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line, an imaginary border, and claims 90,000 sq km -- nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. After 1962, tensions flared again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces clashing in Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal. Chinese troops reportedly built a helipad in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes. Two of the major allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre are raking up the Chinese incursion issue in the run up to the assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh. The Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), both allies of the UPA government, have made reports of Chinese incursion and Beijing’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh election issues in the state. “New Delhi should be bold enough in its stand against China, especially when it comes to Arunachal Pradesh. The central government should firm up its stand,” Kito Sora, state Trinamool Congress president, said. “Time and again China is staking claim over Arunachal Pradesh and the response by the central government is seen to be rather muted. We want a very bold stand from New Delhi,” senior NCP leader L. Wanglet said. The prime minister, however, made no direct reference to media reports of Chinese incursions.

 
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