Itanagar, Aug. 30: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved connectivity to 21 new circle headquarters in Arunachal Pradesh.
That the Prime Minister should micro-manage alongside major decisions like approving the Itanagar airport at Holongi and extending the East-West corridor to Itanagar may seem odd but for the fact that these little circles which are basic administrative units are on the border with China.
Creating smaller administrative units in states is a simple decision but given the tough terrain and border with China, a nod from the top was found necessary, sources said.
Chief minister Nabam Tuki said he hoped that small places like circle headquarters would retain the population in those locations. “I spoke to the Prime Minister and he has in principle approved it,” said Tuki, adding that the government urgently needed mule tracks and footbridges if high altitude villages were to be kept inhabited.
He said he had informed the government of India that populations from high altitude areas were shifting towards urban centres.
Tuki’s circle headquarters include a distant village near Tawang in the west to a habitation near Vijaynagar in the east.
A road is proposed from Tuting to Singa. “I have been to Anini and Mipi, have asked for connectivity from Tuting to Gelling (on the border) and have made Dumbin (on the border in Dibang Valley district) a circle headquarters,” he said.
All the locations are close to the 1,080km international border.Tuki’s responses to questions on Chinese incursions were nearly as cautious and underplayed as by South Block. But the concerns are obviously being worked on together by the Centre and the state government.
New Delhi is apparently working from top and bottom simultaneously.
Arunachal Pradesh is set to get included into the national infrastructure grid with a new airport and connection to the East-West corridor. A four-lane highway will connect Itanagar to Nagaon, which is part of the corridor that extends to Silchar in Assam.
A 400-hectare site has been cleared at Holongi, 18km from here, Tuki said. An airport site near Banderdewa was rejected on technical grounds, as a large aircraft like a Boeing could not have landed in the area. The site also had the limitation of a single route for landing and take off.
The Centre has also cleared eight advanced landing grounds close to the border with China and Myanmar, three of them for civilian aircraft as well. The grounds are at Aalo, Ziro, Mechukha, Tuting, Walong, Pasighat, Vijaynagar and Tawang. Among these, Aalo, Pasighat and Ziro will be put to civilian use as well.