Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging ]
September was dominated by the Chakma-Hajong issue and it seems the issue is likely to prolong further. After the hasty decision by the Central Government to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh, there was widespread opposition to the decision across the state. A state bandh was called by the AAPSU, which was supported by most Arunachalese. Many Arunachalese are also opposing the decision to implement the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy. `
Then came the news that the NITI Aayog proposed a Multipurpose River Valley Project for Siang River. The proposed project is estimated to be a 300 metre high dam with power generation capacity of 10,000 MW. The projected benefits for our state include about Rs 2600 crore yearly as revenue, Rs 4500 crore as side benefits and investments of about Rs 80,000 crore with huge employment generation.
Immediately after the announcement, there was opposition to the project from many groups. It is understood that there would be pros and cons in all big projects. However, all Arunachalese need to know that China has already built one dam on the Yarlung Tsangpo (Siang) and two more dams are under construction. It remains to be seen how the central and state governments are going to negotiate the opposition groups and implement the project.
There was some good news also. In a small step towards self sustenance, a pilot-project ‘Sanitary Napkin Making Machine Project’ was installed and training provided to trainees in Tawang. Priced about Rs 5 lakh only, the machine has a capacity to produce 1000 sanitary napkins in eight hours and its running cost is Rs 350 to Rs 500 per hour.
During September, there were too many holidays due to many festivals. Firstly, vehicles and industries stopped running for few days due to ‘Viswakarma Puja’. This was followed by five holidays, including Durga Puja and Gandhi Jayanti. In east India, during these days everything seems to stop! During these days, banks are closed, offices are closed, buses/trucks stop running, courier offices are closed, and shops/factories close as most employees are on leave. The only exception providing relief to common citizens is due to railways, boats and planes which keep operating.
It appears that there are too many holidays in our nation. According to some calculations, including weekends off, Gazetted/ restricted holidays, national/ state mourning days, bandhs, earned/ casual/ sick/ child care/ maternity leave,etc, the government institutions/ organizations work for about 230 days and employees work for 175 days only per year. Can a nation and state really progress with such few working days? (The writer is a retired Group Captain of the Indian Air Force)