The crucial road project that has been mired in controversy will connect remote Chaglagam village to Rocham in Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district Credit: EastMojo image

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh government threw much of its weight behind reinvigorating infrastructure and envisioning climate-resilient development in 2021, a year in which the frontier state also made headlines for alleged Chinese intrusion into its territory.

The state government has taken up a comprehensive project to build infrastructure in villages in borderlands to put a check on migration from the remote ice-clad areas.

It has already submitted a Rs 4,000-crore proposal to the Union Home Ministry as part of the plan.

The proposal has been already cleared by the Home ministry and it will now be placed before the Union Cabinet. Once cleared, border areas can be developed with all amenities so that migration can be stopped, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said in a recent interview to PTI.

The project aims at building roads, health centres and educational institutions, besides electrifying villages, improving mobile connectivity and water supply.

Arunachal Pradesh’s endeavour to establish all-weather connectivity got a shot in the arm in February, with the Centre approving road construction projects of 598 km at an estimated cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

During the year, the ministry, as part of its Indo-China Border Roads (ICBR) project, also awarded six road stretches in Arunachal Pradesh to the National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation on a nomination basis, entailing an expenditure of around Rs 5,000 crore.

The state government signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) for setting up a 90-MW project in Tawang and another 120-MW plant in West Kameng.

The northeastern state was in the news for the wrong reasons, too, as Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a brief face-off near Yangtse in the Tawang sector in October.

The incident had taken place after a Chinese patrol reportedly tried to enter Indian territory but the troops of the People’s Liberation Army were forced back. The issue was eventually resolved following a dialogue between local commanders of the two sides in accordance with established protocols.

Talk of alleged Chinese encroachment also gained momentum with media reports of China constructing a second village (cluster of at least 60 buildings) in the state, approximately six km within India. The new enclave could be seen in images accessed by a national television channel, from two major satellite imagery providers: Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs, and its exact location was indicated on Bharatmaps, a Government of India online map service.

However, Khandu denied such reports, and said the constructions were within the Chinese territory. There is no such development as reported by the Army, paramilitary forces and local residents. Whatever construction has happened is within the Tibet-China territory, the CM added.

In a significant initiative on climate change, the state cabinet in November adopted the ‘Pakke Declaration’ aimed at climate-resilient development in Arunachal Pradesh.

The declaration envisages a multi-sectoral approach towards low emission through five broad themes, or the ‘Panch Dharas’ – environment, forest and climate change, health and well being of all, sustainable and adaptive living, livelihoods and opportunities, and evidence generation and collaborative action.

The state government also designated 2021 as the ‘Year of Education’ with a planned investment of Rs 1,000 crore for the sector.

In terms of governance, it batted for the growth of digital infrastructure, with CM Khandu launching the centrally-funded Statewide Area Network (SWAN), which would provide secure digital connectivity to all the district headquarters and local administrative centres.

In March, another unique initiative – The Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan – was launched with the objective of encouraging people towards conservation instead of hunting.

Over 2,000 weapons have been voluntarily surrendered till now, officials said.

The second wave of COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Arunachal Pradesh, too, in 2021, but was less severe than the first.

Upgradation of district hospitals, setting up of new health facilities and prompt availability of life savers like oxygen ensured that fewer people were affected by the deadly pathogen, the officials said.

The state has reported 55,328 coronavirus cases till date, and 55,030 people have recovered from the disease. The death toll stood at 280.

During the year, security forces also intensified operations against underground groups active in three eastern districts Tirap, Changlang and Longding. A total of 187 insurgency-related incidents were reported in the state in 2021, and 11 militants of various factions of rebel groups were killed.

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