“If Arunachal has to grow, we have to begin by accepting that the basis of the state’s infrastructural Growth,” said the Chief Minister Kalikho Pul while addressing the NEC plenary meet in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Chief Minister spoke on the “two realities of Arunachal” by which he meant “while on the one hand we have seen the spectacular growth of urban centres like the capital at Itanagar, the state still has its villages today that are not connected by road or even have the very basic amenities of electricity and safe drinking water”.
“When we couple this with the extremely large geographical area, almost the size of the rest of the north-eastern states put together with a population that is scattered with a density of 17 persons per square kilometre, we suddenly see the planning and developmental challenge that confronts us,” said the CM.
Reiterating that “one size fits all” policy does not work, the CM said that to build Arunachal into a strong State, and at par with its other more developed member states of the NEC, we must realise that just as the one-size-fits –all planning model does not address the concerns of the northeast, Arunachal also needs customised and area specific solutions to its problems.
Seeking special dispensation for the state, the Chief Minister said that the planning in a state like Arunachal has its own very unique history and peculiar problems, where the state’s topography, challenging climatic conditions and communication bottlenecks make the cost of creation and maintenance of infrastructures extremely high.
Asking for relaxation in population criterion, the CM said that money spent on creation of infrastructure is not consumed by the population, but by the difficult terrain wherein a population-based criterion becomes mis-matched with the demands of ground realities.
Stressing on improving connectivity, the Chief Minister said that for Arunachal to develop, first and foremost is the challenge of ensuring dependable connectivity, both through road and rail networks.
He called upon the Prime Minister to help build a railway corridor along the foothills of the state that will connect to the existing rail network in the region, which will greatly impact in providing forward and backward linkages for the agriculture, horticulture, medicinal plants and mineral sectors, which is the mainstay of our livelihoods.
The Chief Minister also urged on efficient air connectivity and informed that there are seven airstrips which are being developed by the Defence Ministry /Airports Authority of India, which must be commissioned on priority.
He sought the assistance of the Prime Minister to take up the airport project at Itanagar within this year, which would be a lasting contribution for the people of Arunachal.
Expressing the state government’s full commitment to develop hydropower sector, the Chief Minister urged that the process of obtaining various
clearances for power projects must be expedited and even made into a single window clearance system.
He said Arunachal holds the potential to be the powerhouse of India, yet the state has been able to build less than 500 MW capacity from its estimated hydropower potential of over 57,000 MW.
Also giving thrust to development of tourism sector, the CM urged on the need for support from the DONER and NEC to take up a comprehensive ‘Entry Point-To-Destination’ tourism infrastructure with amenities for tourists at every 60-70 kms. distance, presently equipped with only scattered Yatri Niwas or Tourist Lodges.
Presenting Arunachal as an important religious tourist destination, the CM requested the Prime Minister to include important religious cites in the state as part of the religious tourist circuits of national significance under the PRASAD scheme.
He also requested the PM to consider organizing a “Festival of Tribes” of Arunachal under the Ministry of Culture, which would be an annual event held in different parts of the state.
On healthcare, the CM expressed grateful for the centre’s support for the establishment of a 500-bedded hospital at Itanagar and also a medical college and requested the PM to convert this into a central government institution for ensuring sustained quality of operations.
He also requested the Prime Minister to consider sanctioning a state paramedical institute, which would be a big step in the Skill India Initiative.
Further, the Chief Minister requested the PM to increase fund allocation to NEC informing that the budgetary allocation to the NEC was declining. Considering the developmental gap and disparity in the NE, it is highly recommended that resource basket of the DONER and NEC must be enhanced by at least 5 times its current size, the CM added.