Hello, February

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]
Among the positive developments last month were the inauguration of Pasighat as a smart city and the selection of Itanagar in the latest list of smart cities. With this, Arunachal Pradesh is the only state in Northeast India to have two smart cities. However, it remains to be seen how smartly and efficiently the funds will be used to transform these two towns into truly smart cities.
After years of political instability, the present Pema Khandu-led government in Arunachal Pradesh celebrated completion of one year with a huge event at Namsai, which was attended by the state’s who’s who. The other news was that of Arunachal Pradesh being declared open defecation free (0DF), becoming the second state in the Northeast to be declared ODF, after Sikkim. But a visit to remote villages or overcrowded towns may prove otherwise.
The Kameng (600 mw) and the Pare (100 mw) hydropower projects are planned to be commissioned by March 2018. Along with the Ranganadi hydropower project, the state’s production of electricity would far exceed the average requirement of the entire state. However, power cuts are still occurring due to frequent problems in the transmission grid. Transmission problems are leading to other states drawing and using Arunachal’s power supply more than us!
Among the bad news have been the very high diesel and petrol prices prevalent over the last few months. Diesel and petrol prices have been rising incrementally and have reached an all-time high – an unwanted record for the central and state governments.
The Siang river still remains muddy and contaminated. The government needs to relook the ‘earthquake in Tibet’ theory and initiate remedial measures.
With the commissioning of the Sadiya bridge, thousands of tourists are thronging Roing and Mayudia, causing traffic jams and chaotic conditions. It is known that Arunachal has vast potential for tourism. However, our infrastructure is grossly inadequate to support this increase in tourist inflow. A similar situation may arise in Pasighat, Aalo and Mechukha once the Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra is commissioned this year. We need to learn and prepare ourselves for receiving a larger number of tourists.
The other news is about the public ire over the delay in infrastructure projects. Recently the public of Upper Subansiri district decided not to participate in any electioneering process until the Trans-Arunachal Highway is constructed. The huge rally was joined by many local organizations. This unique form of protest has been seen in a few constituencies of our state, where the local citizens have protested against the government’s apathy. It seems that slowly but gradually a movement is beginning against institutional corruption and poor governance. The question is, will such movements sustain in Arunachal Pradesh? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)