Sinlung /
19 June 2014

Border population thinning out, Arunachal governor alerts PM

Arunachal has always been a sensitive state with China often claiming it as its territory.

NEW DELHI: Arunachal Pradesh governor Lt Gen (retd) Nirbhay Sharma has sounded a security alert along the Sino-Indian border and sought the PM's intervention to relook at the government's rehabilitation policy in the area.

In a communique to the prime minister's office last week, the governor warned the government of a "thinning out of population along the Line of Actual Control" which could have serious long-term security implications for the country. Sharma has suggested setting up of a Border Area Security and Development Authority.

"This issue needs to be addressed urgently or else apart from a constant threat of ingress, gradual assimilation of our area by China is along the cards, on the lines already witnessed in north Myanmar," said the note to PMO.

The governor, a former military strategist having served in north-east and J&K during his 40-year career with the Army, has suggested making all of the approximately 50,000 civilian population in bordering villages along LAC as "part of the security forces" deployed there.

"The developmental plan of the border belt has to be reviewed in a big way," the governor emphasised, and suggested that paramilitary forces and the Army deployed on the LAC should share common infrastructure, communication, health and other logistical facilities with the villagers. "This project should be addressed in totality and on a war footing against firm time-lines," the note said.

The need for making the border population part of the security structure has been felt necessary considering the 'tremendous' development across the border by China which has constructed road, rail and air connectivity right up to the border. Sharma has produced visual evidences to corroborate his assertion. On the Indian side "most of our road-heads are more than 50-70 km from the LAC".

Arunachal has always been a sensitive state for the country with China often claiming it as its territory. In 2008, the government through the PM's special economic package of Rs 37,000 crore laid emphasis on development of infrastructure in the state which has at least 13 of its 17 districts touching international borders.

Picking holes in the existing development initiatives, Sharma said the thrust of development under the Border Area Development Programme peters out as it ascends towards the LAC. "Consequently, there is a thinning out of the border population which comes down to the lower heights to seek better opportunities," he adds.

The governor has suggested keeping the borders out of bounds for tourists and instead compensate the local population for their limited means of livelihood. The border belt along LAC comprises around 100 villages.

Lt Gen Sharma has stressed the need to have a unified security apparatus to coordinate operations of all security forces deployed in the region and the Centre and state governments.

As part of the PM's special economic package announced earlier, two airports are being constructed at Tezu and Daporijo. The Tezu airport is expected to begin operation this year providing much needed air-connectivity to the state. For military operations, the work is under way to upgrade the Advanced Landing Grounds at Pasighat, Ziro, Aalo, Mechuka, Tuting, Walong, Vijoynagar and Tawang.


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