Wednesday, December 7, 2022

PM inaugurates Arunachal’s 1st greenfield airport

Amidst chanting of incantations by tribal priests, the spanking new Donyi Polo Airport, the first greenfield facility in Arunachal Pradesh, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
The airport located at Hollongi, around 15 km from state capital Itanagar, will link the border state to other Indian cities with commercial flights as well as other parts of Arunachal Pradesh through helicopter services.
Modi asked political commentators to stop seeing everything through the prism of politics.
The airport’s foundation stone was laid by Modi in February 2019.
“Political commentators had claimed (in 2019) that the laying of the foundation stone for the airport was an election gimmick. But today when there are no elections due, we are launching this airport. This airport is a slap on their face,” the prime minister said in his address.
He also highlighted the government’s efforts to develop all border villages under the Vibrant Border Village Programme which will give a boost to tourism and reduce migration in the region.
Earlier, hamlets in border areas were considered the “last village” but now they are considered the “first village” he said.
For long, Northeast was neglected while today, the region gets top priority when it comes to development, be it tourism or trade, telecom or textiles, he said.
Seven airports were built in the Northeast in the last eight years, he said.
“Policy makers earlier only wanted to win elections while we only work for the development of the nation,” Modi said.
Modi also dedicated to the nation the 600 MW Kameng hydropower project in the northeastern state’s West Kameng district.
The Kameng hydropower project has been developed at a cost of more than Rs 8,450 crore in an area spread over more than 80 sq km.
It is expected to make Arunachal Pradesh a power-surplus state and benefit the national grid in terms of stability and integration.
He said the central government is going to spend Rs 50,000 crore in the near future for the infrastructural development of Arunachal Pradesh.
“Connectivity and energy infrastructure will bring a new dawn of development for the northeastern region,” Modi said.
He stressed the need for proper connectivity to remote areas of the state and said that 85 per cent of villages in the hill state are linked with Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna.
The development of the new airport will create huge opportunities in the field of cargo services. As a result, farmers of the state can now sell their produce to bigger markets, he said.
He said the farmers are reaping the benefits of PM Kisan Nidhi in the state.
“We are working on mission mode to carry the development forward to every house and village in the state,” the PM said.
Recalling a colonial law that barred the people of Arunachal Pradesh from harvesting bamboo, he said that the government is making a move to abolish the legislation.
He pointed out that bamboo is part of the lifestyle of the state and its cultivation is helping the people of the region to export bamboo products all over India and the world.
“Now you can cultivate, harvest and sell bamboo just like any other crop”, he added.
The priority of the government is that the poor lead a graceful life, the prime minister said.
Modi said that his government works 365 days, 24/7 for the development of this country.
“I inaugurate the projects, the foundation stones of which are laid by me. Gone are the days of laid-back attitude,” he said.
Officials estimate that the airport will service some 20 lakh people in the region and help boost connectivity, trade and tourism.
He also launched a coffee-table book on the central government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Governor Brig (Retd) Dr B D Mishra were present on the occasion.
The naming of the airport reflects the reverence of the indigenous people of Arunachal for the sun (Donyi) and the moon (Polo), Khandu said in his address.
The Donyi Polo Airport has been developed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on over 690 acres of land at an estimated cost of Rs 645 crore. It will have eight check-in counters and will be able to accommodate 200 passengers during peak hours, officials said.
With a 2,300-metre runway, the airport is suitable for all weather day operations.
There was no airport in Arunachal Pradesh, the country’s easternmost state. The closest facility was at Lilabari airport, 80 km away in Assam’s North Lakhimpur district.
However, there are a few advanced landing grounds in the state, including in Pasighat and Tezu.
A number of advanced landing grounds came up after 2014, Khandu said.
He said that Arunachal Pradesh has a huge potential for hydroelectric power and several such projects have been approved by the central government.
Thanking the prime minister, he said that the Centre has approved Rs 40,000 crore for building 2,500 km of roads in the state.
Terming the day as ‘historic’ for Arunachal Pradesh, Khandu said the greenfield airport took a little over three years for completion.
“Economic activities will get a new boost and witness a sharp rise with the airport becoming functional,” he said.
Khandu said all the seven advanced landing grounds built in the state in the 1960s have been rebuilt and operationalised.
The chief minister said Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and AAI will start air services within the state using fixed-wing Dornier 228 aircraft.
On the 600 MW Kameng Hydropower Station, Khandu said the run-of-the-river scheme to harness the hydropower of the Bichom and Tenga rivers (tributaries of Kameng river) got delayed due to various reasons for many years.
The Kameng project, the construction of which began in February 2005, had missed several deadlines.
He said the project was fast-tracked only after the NDA government came to power in 2014.
The chief minister also said the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project will be commissioned in 2023.
With the commissioning of these projects, Arunachal Pradesh will contribute significantly to India’s target of achieving a 5 trillion-dollar economy, Khandu added.

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