The Narendra Modi government has asked the different Central and state agencies to fast-track development and infrastructure projects in Arunachal Pradesh along Line of Actual Control (LAC). Prime Minister Modi’s idea is not only to speed up development in this key north-eastern state but also to make the remote areas of the state easily accessible not only to the military but also to tourists, sources told The Sunday Guardian.
This is a significant move amid China’s constant provocation along the LAC and its expansionist agenda.
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs recently announced that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabets the names of 15 places in “Zangnan”, the Chinese name for Arunachal Pradesh. The standardisation is in accordance with regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet. India rejected China’s claim, saying, “Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Attempts to assign invented names will not alter this reality.”
“Serene and spectacular Arunachal Pradesh”, a tweet message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi read on 14 April. With this message, the PM retweeted a video shared by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Twitter. Amit Shah wrote “Captured the beautiful landscapes during my visit to Kibithoo, India’s first village. Arunachal Pradesh is blessed with immense natural beauty. I urge all to visit Arunachal Pradesh, especially Kibithoo, to be inspired by its history and stunned by nature’s marvels.”
Diplomats, aware of the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office say that PM Modi’s “reaction” to Home Minister’s video highlights the priority of the Indian Prime Minister about finishing the infrastructural projects in the state. PM Modi is learnt to have reviewed the progress of all the projects in the LAC villages of Arunachal Pradesh. He also reviewed the development of the projects in other regions and states along the LAC, officials told The Sunday Guardian. “The Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence regularly share with the PMO updates on China’s so-called model villages or Xiaokang close to LAC,” a source said. China claims that through its Xiaokang programme it aims to create a moderately wealthy society by reducing poverty. “This claim being made by China is hollow,” a source said. China expanded its chain of model villages close to LAC, opposite Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. “These villages, inhabited by those loyal to CCP, were intended to serve as a buffer with India and improve Beijing’s control over these remote areas.” India has exposed China’s real motive behind this programme Xiaokang.
India’s Vibrant Villages programme, which was launched by Amit Shah on Monday will give a boost to development work in the LAC villages of Arunachal Pradesh in what is being viewed as an answer to China’s model villages programme. The government has asked officials to accelerate works aimed at converting Arunachal into a state having multiple tourist hubs. This will be possible through a civil-military partnership, sources said. The focus will be on developing homestays, treks, camping sites, adventure sports activities and spiritual tours.
At the same time, the Arunachal Pradesh government is considering promoting tours to the crash sites of World War II-vintage aircraft in the state. These sites have a 1,129 km (about 701.53 miles) long LAC with China. According to sources, the Central government has reviewed the works on developing homestays, camping sites, zip-lines and trekking routes in Kaho, the first village on the India-China LAC in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, as well as Kibithoo and Meshai. According to sources, the state government will build a commercial landing ground for helicopters at Walong, near the Advance Landing Ground of the Indian Air Force (IAF). This will help tourists to fly in from Dibrugarh. The focus will be on making access to the remote state easier. The Arunachal Pradesh government is also building 50 mini hydropower projects along the LAC for electrification of the remote villages and military establishments. The micro, mini and small hydropower projects of 10-100-kilowatt capacity are being built at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore under the “Golden Jubilee Border Village Illumination Programme”. Nine of these projects were inaugurated by Amit Shah on 10 April in Kibithoo.
Suggestions have also been given that the Central government should plan to organise a “defence expo” in Arunachal Pradesh in which delegates from various countries should participate. “Multiple defence activities in this state would be a much stronger message to China which lays claims on Arunachal,” an official said.
“The idea is to increase military and administrative presence in Arunachal’s bordering regions,” a source said. “The Vibrant Villages Programme aims to improve living conditions and job prospects in five states and territories that are located along the LAC,” sources said. “Surveillance over Chinese activities will also be increased as part of India’s strategic move,” the source said.