Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
In the last few days, Northeast India has been hit by bandhs and disruptions caused by protests against the implementation of the amended Citizenship Act. Though Assam has been affected the most, the effect of the bandhs and disruptions has impacted all the states of the Northeast.
Roads and railways to all the states of the Northeast pass through Assam. Bandhs in Assam affect all the states of the region. Due to these disruptions in the transportation network, many areas of Arunachal and other states have run out of petrol, diesel and kerosene, and there are shortages of groceries, vegetables, etc. Patients have also been majorly affected by shortage of medicines and inability to travel to better hospitals in the other parts of the country.
While there are genuine demands of citizens, the citizens of other states routinely suffer because of bandhs and disruptions in Assam. The obvious solution is better flight connectivity to other parts of the country. Aizawl, Imphal, Dimapur, Shillong and Agartala are connected directly to Kolkata, Delhi, etc. In Arunachal, there are fixed-wing flights only from Pasighat, and that, too, only thrice a week. Though helicopter service is available to Dibrugarh and Guwahati, the capacity is limited. Improved flight connectivity will allow patients, students and officials to travel to other cities directly.
Activating alternative roads through Bhutan is another option available. But the better solution would be constructing better internal roads within Arunachal that would connect our district headquarters with the capital. Presently, travelling to other areas from the capital is disrupted during bandhs as almost all roads pass through Assam.
The other solution is to ensure availability of essential items and services at key locations of the state for sustaining normal life at least for 7-10 days. These emergency supplies will ensure that normal life continues in the state despite bandhs. One example is petrol, diesel and kerosene. If petrol and diesel are rationed and supplied to cars, two-wheelers and commercial vehicles like buses, trucks, etc, normal life can be sustained for at least 7-10 days.
All fuel depots should be instructed to ensure maintaining emergency stocks of about 30-40 litres. Additional fuel stockings should be created at key places like the capital, the district headquarters, etc.
There should be similar stocks of essential items like medicines, food items, non-perishable vegetables, groceries, etc. These items should be adequate to sustain normal life for 15-30 days despite bandhs.
Thus, oil depots and food/grocery stocks should be created at key locations in west, central and east Arunachal.
The long-term solution would be to produce our own products in the state to reduce the dependence on Assam. If we can produce the required food items, groceries, and have adequate reserves of petrol, diesel and kerosene, we can easily sustain despite bandhs and disruptions in Assam. Let’s start producing ourselves. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)