R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 22 – Following persistent demands from the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, the Centre has finally initiated steps for augmenting security measures along the international border with China and additional troops are being moved into the bordering areas, while, a battalion of the Arunachal Scouts has also been sanctioned.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, Sanjoy Takam said that he, along with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu met Prime Minister and the Defence Minister recently and discussed the situation on the ground. He said that the Government of India has sanctioned two additional divisions of the Army to be deployed in Arunachal Pradesh for improving vigil along the international border with China. One division of the Army consists of around 10,000 to 12,000 personnel.
The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has already finalized the plot of land for the Army to set up the new divisional bases and the land would be handed over soon. At present, one division of the Army with its headquarter in Tenga valley is looking after the international border, while, parts of the division based in Dinjan are also deployed in Arunachal Pradesh. The creation of the new divisions will more than double the strength of the Army along the Arunachal Pradesh-China border.
Sanjoy said that for years, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has been demanding creation of Arunachal Scouts in lines of the Ladakh Scouts to improve vigil along the international border and the Government of India has sanctioned one battalion recently. He said that the recruitment rallies of the battalion of the Arunachal Scouts have started and 50 per cent of the posts of the battalion would be filled up with local youths and the remaining youths would be recruited from the rest of the country. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has demanded that the youths of the North East should get preference in recruitments to be made from the rest of the country.
The personnel of the Arunachal Scouts would work along with the Army under the Ministry of Defence. The local youths are well aware of the ground situation and they are also well acclimatized with the adverse terrain to play their part in assisting the Army in manning the international border, Sanjoy pointed out and said that over the years, the personnel of the Ladakh Scouts did a commendable job in guarding the international border. He said that the Government of India also agreed to sanction a second battalion of the Arunachal Scouts comprising 70 per cent of locals immediately after the recruitment and training of the first battalion is completed.
In addition to that, the Centre has also accepted the demand for building of airstrips in forward positions and seven such airstrips are being constructed in strategic locations.
The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has also demanded that the Government should construct a road all along the McMahon Line to improve vigil and to facilitate movement of troops all along the international border, but the Government of India is yet to act on that.
The Government of India has sanctioned a Rs 24,000 crore trans Arunachal highway but the construction of the same is yet to start, said Sanjoy.
Hydropower projects: Commenting on the recent controversy over the decision of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh for construction of a number of hydropower projects, Sanjoy said that the issues like seismic vulnerability, environmental issues etc would be taken care of while constructing the hydro power projects. He claimed that majority of the projects would be run of the river ones and mega dams would not be constructed. The people of Assam should not be apprehensive of the projects and in fact the projects would benefit Assam, he claimed.
The Member of Parliament said that parts of Arunachal Pradesh were facing food scarcity because of the failure of the Food Corporation of India to clear the dues of the contractors and there have been instances when the State Government was forced to airlift essential items. He said that the matter has already been taken up with the Prime Minister and following his directive, the Centre has convened a high level meeting on August 26 to resolve the issue.