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Arunachal Guv seeks opening of Stilwell Road

 ITANAGAR, June 19 – Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh has urged the North Eastern Council (NEC) to impress upon the Centre for developing the historic Stilwell Road and opening of border trade with South East Asian countries across Pangsau Pass.

“By opening the road, we would definitely be providing a valuable route for a boost to the economy of the Northeastern States and for movement of people, tourists in particular,” Singh said in his address at the 60th Plenary session of the NEC in New Delhi on Thursday.

The 1,079-km Stilwell Road, built during the World War II, links Ledo in Assam with Kunming in China through the Pangsau Pass. The road has been heavily damaged in landslides in many places.

“Once the entire stretch of the road is usable, its formal opening is inevitable and is bound to happen sooner or later. The major items of import from Myanmar side would be valuable timber (teak), precious gems, medicinal plants and other agricultural products,” the Governor said.

The timber could help revive many of the wood-based industries that had to be shut down in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh following the Supreme Court’s restrictions on timber operations in 1996, he said.

He said, the opening of this road can transform the economy of the under-developed and insurgency-affected Northeastern region of the country by making it a production hub for feeding the Myanmarese and western Chinese markets.

The opening of the road would reduce transportation cost between China and India by more than 30 per cent as currently, most imports from Myanmar and China were being channelled through Kolkata, a much longer sea-route, he said.

Pleading the case of air connectivity to Arunachal, Gen Singh expressed gratitude to Union DoNER Minister BK Handique for getting the frequency of flights between Guwahati and Lilabari increased to six days a week.

However, he requested the Union Minister to change the schedule of Guwahati-Lilabari flight from 8.20 am to sometime between 1 pm and 2 pm, for the benefit of the Arunachal-bound passengers from New Delhi. – PTI

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