Archive for the ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ Category

Indian Army Raises Arunachal Scouts Unit

November 11, 2010

indian-armyShillong, Nov 11 : The Indian Army today formally raised the first battalion of the Arunachal Pradesh scouts— a well-trained army unit that will be operative only in Arunachal Pradesh.

The functions and operations of Arunachal Pradesh scouts will be similar to that of the Ladakh scouts — the frontier unit of the Indian Army that had played a major role during the Kargil war.

The raising day of the Arunachal Pradesh scouts was formally inaugurated by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu at the sprawling parade ground of the Assam Regimental Centre (ARC), Shillong today.

In his address to the jawans, Khandu said: “We should take pride that for the first time in the history of Indian Army, a battalion has been named after the State of Arunachal Pradesh”.
Disclosing that the concept of Arunachal Pradesh scouts has been his dream and a long-felt demand of the State as well, Khandu extended his gratitude to Prime Minister  Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony, Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh, top brass of the Army and bureaucrats for honouring the genuine demand for raising the Arunachal Scouts.  He further acknowledged the relentless efforts made by the Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen J J Singh, his Cabinet colleagues, Members of Parliament, MLAs and officers from the State for making the dream of Arunachal Scout come true.

“Since this new battalion is born out of the Assam Regiment, you continue to be a part of the living symbol of martial strength and traditions of the Northeast. The glorious tradition of the people of the Land of the Rising Sun and the dawn-lit mountains of India and their inborn ability of surviving in all kinds of adverse conditions and treacherous terrain would be the core strength of your battalion” Khandu asserted.

“You will have the difficult task of making your own history and creating unparalleled traditions. I have no doubt that you will embark upon the arduous task of creating one of the strongest, cohesive, disciplined and operationally proficient battalions of the Indian Army,” Khandu said emphatically.

Khandu requested the recruits to give their best as the country and the State of Arunachal Pradesh would  look up to them with full confidence as the sentinels of the country.

In addition to the raising ceremony of first battalion of Arunachal Scouts, Khandu attended the Passing out ceremony of 294 batch of the Assam Regiment as the reviewing officer on the day.
Impressed by the excellent performance of the passing out contingents through march past and drills, Khandu congratulated them for being a full-fledged soldier of the motherland and successfully completing the training course.

Khandu believed that training should be made mandatory for all personnel time and again so that it could make them fit and healthy. He hinted similar type of training programmes for the State police. Khandu encouraged the personnel to show bravery and courage in safeguarding the territorial boundary and maintain the discipline and devotion which are mandatory in arm forces.

Although Arunachal Pradesh scouts will be under the aegis of the Assam Regiment, the men will be from the qualified inhabitants of Arunachal Pradesh.

Khandu also said, “By their inborn virtues, Arunachal Pradesh scouts will take the mantle of the other jawans to maintain vigilance in places that have varying altitudes from 1,500 feet to 2,400 feet of altitude from the sea level”.   

Khandu also said that taking into consideration the unmanned 1,200 km border with China, 520 km with Myanmar and 219 km with Bhutan, the local recruits of the new force will go a long way in ensuring the national integrity.

When asked on whether the Chinese factor is the reason for raising the army battalion, the senior most serving officer of the Assam Regiment Major General SN Singh told a group of newsmen on the sidelines of the ceremonial programme that the raising of the new unit was not a target to anybody. “It’s a battalion with men from the place”, he said, and added: “They are the ones who are acclimatized with the topography, the weather and the other conditions of the area.”

Adding further to what the Arunachal Chief Minister said General Singh also added that the raising of the new battalion would  give an opportunity to the people of Arunachal Pradesh to take an active part in the defense of the country. Meanwhile, the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister announced a financial package of Rs 50 lakh for the new Arunachal scouts and Rs 5 lakh for the instructors.

Among others from Arunachal Pradesh, PWD & UD  Minister Nabam Tuki, Parliamentary Secretary Labour and Employment Padi Richo, GOC 56 Division Maj General R N Singh and Commandant, Assam Regimental Centre were present on the occasion.

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Arunachal’s Sangty Valley Awaits Arrival of Rare Cranes

October 29, 2010

crane Blacknecked Santy ArunachalItanagar, Oct 29 : The enchanting Sangty valley in Arunachal Pradesh is ready to host once again the endangered black-neck cranes as the winter approaches, but bird watchers are crossing their fingers over whether the winged guests from China and Tibet will arrive in depleted numbers.

The rare bird, locally known as Dhung Dhung Karma, sets up its winter home in the valley, situated at Dirang in West Kameng district, from November till February every year to escape the bitter cold in the Upper Himalayas.

Located at a distance of eight kilometres from Dirang, Sangty valley is known as a bird’s paradise, especially for the migratory variety which likes its friendly climatic condition.

The valley is credited with being the only wintering site for the black-neck crane in the Lower Himalayas, but the hapless birds are increasingly becoming the targets of hunting by tourists as well as a section of local people.

Records say that the exotic species used to visit two other places till 1970 – Apatani Plateau in Lower Subansiri district and Papu Valley in West Kameng district.

They abandoned the sites because of persistent harassment by local people who are unaware of the rare status of the birds and also rapid change in the land use pattern.

“In the absence of protection and conservation, these migratory birds are facing problems from tourists who chase them for taking photographs,’’ lamented Lham Thupten, a bird enthusiast from Sangty Village.

He said there were even instances of some black-necked cranes leaving the Sangty valley the same day as they arrived harried by constant badgering by tourists. Other inhabitants of the valley said last year only three black neck cranes had been spotted.

In 2005, official records say, nine migratory birds died in the valley after coming into contact with a live electric wire as several more such deaths were reported in the valley in the last few years.

Though the district administration had proposed to realign the electric wires passing through the valley, no initiative had been taken.

Local people, known as Monpa, see the arrival of the bird as harbinger of good harvest and happy times for them. Inhabiting the the West Kameng district, the Monpas are known for their disciplined and frugal lifestyle.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife and Bio-diversity) J L Singh said, ‘’Undertaking the proper conservation method like habitat enrichment and minimum human activitiy, the valley could attract more birds and thus become an important tourist destination.’’

The valley could also find a place in the wildlife tourist map of the world if proper care was taken, he observed.

Arunachal Blamed For Dam Tiff

October 28, 2010

By Pankaj Sarma

AGP Assam ProtestAGP members protest in Guwahati on Wednesday against the construction of mega dams.

Guwahati, Oct 28 : The Arunachal Pradesh government’s failure to implement some key recommendations made in a World Bank report has apparently led to the controversy over dams and inter-state clashes over the upcoming hydropower projects in that state.

An official source privy to the comprehensive report said it had recommended maintaining high level of transparency (public access to draft plans and data) and consultation with stakeholders (such as communities affected by floods and erosion on tributaries), which was never followed in true spirit when the Arunachal Pradesh government signed memoranda of understanding and memoranda of association with several power generation companies, including some large private players.

“As a result of that, there has been widespread apprehension and protests against the possible disastrous impact in the downstream areas in Assam because of construction of these dams in Arunachal Pradesh, which has put the two states on a collision course,” the source said.

The report of the World Bank study, titled Study on Natural Resources, Water and the Environment Nexus for Development and Growth in North East India, was submitted to the Centre in 2008. The study was conducted at the initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The study has strongly advocated cooperation among the northeastern states for river management to control flood and erosion and to harness hydropower potential but that does not seem to be happening with Assam and Arunachal expressing contradictory views on this issue. Moreover, the upcoming projects in Arunachal are solely for power generation and not for flood moderation,” the source said.

To ensure better coordination among the states, the study also recommended setting up of a “new river basin management institution” with regulatory powers that would work across the entire Northeast and “for many decisions, other stakeholders, for example communities affected by floods or erosion on tributaries, should be included”.

“The proposed North East Water Resources Authority (Newra) which could have functioned as the river basin management institution as suggested in the report, could not be constituted as yet since Arunachal refused to give its consent,” the source said.

Barring Arunachal Pradesh, all the states of the region have agreed to the Centre’s proposal to set up the authority which was modelled on the lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the US.

The Arunachal government has already signed MoUs and MoAs for construction of 100-odd hydro-projects with a total capacity of around 32,000 MW with different power generation companies.

The World Bank study says that international experience in past decades has shown that it is generally advisable to separate construction from other functions (like impact on downstream areas and upper reaches, environment, ecology, effect on livelihood, etc), since the power generation companies easily get drawn into construction and neglect other vital issues.

Arunachal Orders Inquiry Into Namsai Violence

October 26, 2010

Dorjee_Khandu arunachalItanagar, Oct 26 : The Arunachal Pradesh government today ordered a magisterial probe into the violence at Namsai in Lohit district, officials said.

Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu ordered the inquiry after taking stock of the situation at Namsai earlier in the day
with Home Minister Tako Dabi and other officials.

Interacting with locals, including students’ organisations from the state and neighbouring Assam, Khandu urged them to maintain peace in the area, official sources said.

Khandu has also ordered for additional deployment of forces to restore normalcy.

“I have directed the authority concerned to deploy additional companies of paramilitary forces. The process of airlifting forces have already started,” a source said quoting Khandu.

He said those responsible would be taken to task. On the permanent residential certificates (PRCs) issue, he said for the future, he would go for a consensus from all sections of the society.

The state government had last month revoked its order for granting PRCs to non-Arunachalese residing in Lohit and
Changlang districts after protest by various student bodies.

Violence had erupted at Namsai on Saturday after police baton charged and opened fire in the air when locals
challenged a rally organised by non-Arunachalese in protests against revoking of the order.

The situation turned worst yesterday when locals set ablaze seven houses at Namsai.

Arunachal Govt Pushes For dams

October 25, 2010

By R Dutta Choudhury

Subansiri DamGuwahati, Oct 25 : At a time when different political parties and organizations of Assam are launching movements against construction of mega dams, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh is mounting pressure on the Centre for getting necessary clearance for setting up of 132 hydropower projects.

Highly-placed sources in the Ministry of Environment and Forests told The Assam Tribune that the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has been following up the issue with concerned Ministries of the Centre regularly. Arunachal Government, in its letters to the Government of India, is trying to give a picture that the construction of the hydropower projects would benefit the entire North-east region.

Sources said that on its part, the Government of Assam has not been able to follow up the matter with the concerned ministries of the Government of India. The Assam Government had demanded a comprehensive downstream study on the environment impacts of the hydropower projects sought to be constructed in Arunachal Pradesh. But the Assam Government has not been following up the issue as vigorously at regular intervals as is done by the Arunachal Pradesh Government, sources added.

Sources revealed that of the 132 power projects proposed in Arunachal Pradesh, 23 are mega projects with the capacity to generate at least 500 MW of power. As per the proposals, the 23 mega projects would generate 31,580 MW of power.

Official sources revealed that of the proposed hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh, the Siang project would be the biggest with the capacity to generate 11,000 MW of power. But this project is sought to be constructed in phases. The other major proposed projects include Nyamjangchu project with a capacity to generate 788 MW of power, Tawang I project with 600 MW capacity, Tawang II project with the capacity to generate 800 MW of power Heo project with 210 MW capacity and Tato project with 170 MW capacity.

Sources said that as a part of its efforts to get the clearance of the projects, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has been writing letters to the concerned ministries of the Government of India regularly. Only last week, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh wrote another letter to the Ministry of Environment and Forests requesting for speedy clearance of the projects.

But interestingly, in the last letter, the Arunachal Pradesh Government tried to deal with the apprehensions expressed by different organizations of Assam and claimed that different organizations carried out basin studies for the projects. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh claimed that the projects would benefit the entire region in the days to come. The letter claimed that the Ranganadi project benefited the downstream areas but it did not mention about the floods reportedly caused by excess water from the project.

The letter said that at least 6000 persons are directly and indirectly employed in generating 1,000 MW of power and the power projects in Arunachal Pradesh would generate employment opportunities to at least 342000 persons. As Arunachal Pradesh would not have such a huge workforce, the other states of the region, particularly Assam would be benefited, the letter claimed. Assam would also get other economic benefits as all the materials for the projects would have to be brought from the downstream areas, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh said.

The Arunachal Pradesh Government further claimed that all apprehensions about the safety of the dams were taken care of while designing the projects, which would be run of the river projects.

However, the Government of India is yet to take the final decision regarding granting of environmental clearance for the proposed hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh.

China’s Google Earth Rival Claims Arunachal

October 23, 2010

By Reshma Patil

Beijing, Oct 23 : China’s government-run online mapping service launched on Thursday shows Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India as a slice of Chinese territory. The Chinese language service, Map World, is designed to compete with Google Earth in a market of over 400 million Internet users. It names all northeast Indian states except Arunachal, which China controversially claims as its own.

On the map, the Sino-Indian border is shifted south to northern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is part of China’s southern Tibet region. In Kashmir, the disputed region of Aksai Chin is not named and shown as a part of northwest China.

“All the mapping information has been permitted by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) and related national security departments,’’ Min Yiren, deputy director of the SBSM, was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

Uncertified maps are firewalled in China.

“This is just another move by China to assert its claim over Arunachal Pradesh,’’ said Professor Mohan Malik at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu.
google-arunachal-pradesh-controversy

This latest move continues Beijing’s pattern of asserting in official Xinhua maps and the electronic media that Arunachal is wholly Chinese. Arunachal officials had recently protested Apple’s latest iPhone4 maps that show the state inside China. The Chinese media said Google had not yet applied for a mapping license in China. The global version of Google maps shows Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory.

“Map World will provide comprehensive geological data,” Xu Deming, SBSM director, was quoted as saying at the launch. The blue homepage of Map World, accessible at tianditu.cn or chinaonmap.cn, opens with an image of continents of clouds floating over the Great Wall.

Xu said the service would become a “famous and reliable Chinese brand” and would let users “fly over mountains and plains around the world and search restaurants and traffic information across the country, free”.

The Chinese media said the mapping service was in the making for the last two years, using satellite images from 2006 onwards. The China Daily quoted an official as saying that the service will update geological data twice a year, compared to  Google  Earth satellite updates made nearly every two minutes.

According to rules introduced in May, companies in China must apply for approval to provide online mapping services.

About 31 companies — including Nokia, Baidu and Alibaba — have received  licenses. The rules require companies to maintain servers on the Chinese mainland to store map data.

Source : Hindustan Times

Now, Chinese Train Link Right Up to Arunachal

October 14, 2010

By Sachin Parashar

Chinese train New Delhi, Oct 14 : China recently started work on extending its rail link in Lhasa to its border with Nepal, but for India it might just be a red herring.

In a development, which has alarmed officials and strategic community here, Beijing is simultaneously working on bringing its rail link right upto Nyangtri — located on the border with Arunachal Pradesh and an area that China claims as its own.

Nyangtri is also the site where the Brahmaputra is proposed to be diverted northwards by the Chinese. The Chinese claim that the Nyangtri or Nyingchi prefecture includes some parts of Arunachal Pradesh. China proposes to build the largest dam in the world at this spot.

While the line to Xigaze near Tibet’s border with Nepal will extend south-west from Lhasa, the line to Nyangtri will extend towards Arunachal in the south-east. China proposes to build as many as six big dams in the region on the Brahmaputra in addition to a dozen or so it has already constructed.

“There is no real evidence till now that Brahmaputra waters have been diverted northwards by China, but the massive infrastructure build up at Nyangtri, including this rail link which they are working on, near the Great Bend doesn’t inspire confidence,” said an Indian government official.

The Great Bend is the place, where the Brahmaputra takes a decisive turn and flows towards India.

Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney describes the rail link to Nyangtri as a significant new development.

“The building of the railway to this area is significant because of two reasons: China has unveiled plans to construct there the world’s largest dam which will be more than twice bigger than Three Gorges Dam, now the world’s largest dam, and also because it will strengthen China’s rapid military deployment capability in the eastern (Arunachal) sector,” said Chellaney, adding that China is in a position to rapidly move forces and strike at India whenever it wants to.

China’s focus on expanding its railway south of Lhasa is alarming also because of reports that for the first time earlier this year “combat readiness material” meant for the PLA air force was transported to the region through the Tibet rail link. The PLA Daily recently reported that China conducted its first major parachute exercise in Tibet to demonstrate its capability to rapidly send troops on the world’s highest plateau.

I Will Cooperate in PDS Scam Probe: Gegong

October 14, 2010

PTI8_24_2010_000202B Guwahati, Oct 13 : Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, allegedly involved in a public distribution system (PDS) scam, Wednesday said he would cooperate in the investigations to ensure that he comes out clean.

‘I am a law-abiding citizen and would surely cooperate in the investigations,’ Apang told journalists while being produced in a special court in Assam’s Lakhimpur district.

‘I don’t have much to say but I have full faith in the judiciary and surely expect to come out clean on the case,’ he added.

The veteran Congress leader was arrested Aug 24 by Special Investigation Cell (SIC) sleuths and was granted conditional bail by the special court Oct 8 for eight weeks.

Apang, one of India’s longest serving chief ministers, was arrested from outside the SIC office in Arunachal Pradesh state capital Itanagar and was later produced before the sessions court in Assam’s Lakhimpur town.

The SIC was constituted by the state government, ruled by the Congress, to probe the Rs.1,000-crore PDS scam under the direct supervision of the Gauhati High Court.

Apang had earlier claimed he was a victim of politics hatched by his rivals within the Congress.

The probe began following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by chairperson of Arunachal Citizens’ Rights Bamang Tegu and public leader Domin Loya June 13, 2004.

Apang was the chief minister during the period when the scam took place.

‘I don’t know what happens to my political career, but I know for sure that I have the full sympathy of the people of my state,’ he said.

False and fraudulent transport subsidy bills were allegedly cleared without financial concurrence, besides inflated bills for procuring items.

The Arunachal Pradesh Police Vigilance department earlier named 40 people, including Apang, several bureaucrats and businesspersons, as accused in the scam.

Apang dominated politics in Arunachal Pradesh during the past 25 years – 22 years as chief minister – although he lost the assembly elections in 2009.

Arunachal Delegation Seeks Krishna’s Help

October 13, 2010

By Ravish Tiwari

sm krishna arunachal New Delhi, Oct 13 : Elected representatives from Arunachal Pradesh have intensified their protest against Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s stand against hydro-electric projects in the state.

A three-member delegation comprising a Member of Parliament and two MLAs on Tuesday met External Affairs Minister SM Krishna to counter Jairam’s position and sought his support to push for development works in the state in the “national interest.”

“We strongly protested Jairam Ramesh’s stand against hydroelectric projects in Arunachal. It is very unfortunate that while on the one hand our external neighbour is objecting to projects in the state, on the other hand, a minister in the government is championing the cause of a small section from the neighbouring state to halt projects in our state, Congress MP Takam Sanjoy, who led the delegation, told The Indian Express after meeting Krishna.

Last week, The Indian Express had reported how Jairam Ramesh, in a letter to the Prime Minister, questioned development works in the strategically-located state and demanded a comprehensive review of all hydel projects there. He also sought a “moratorium on any further clearances for hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh” since “these are bound to be the subject of agitation” in Assam.

“We sought the external affairs minister’s support. We highlighted this peculiar situation faced by our state and sought his support for speedy development,” Sanjoy said.

Sanjoy was accompanied by two other state MLAs, Padi Richo and Nido Pavitra.

“The Union Minister for Environment and Forest has never heard from the people and Government of Arunachal Pradesh and he has never come to the state for this purpose. Rather he heard a few NGOs in Guwahati and rushed with an one-sided opinion and report to the Prime Minister,” Sanjoy said.

The delegation also sought Krishna’s support to speed up construction of a greenfield airport at Tawang district in Arunachal.

“We requested Krishnaji to not impose the 70-km distance norm from the border for the construction of a greenfield airport in Tawang. We highlighted the case of the Agartala airport, which is adjacent to the Bangladesh border,” Sanjoy said.

Sanjoy said even Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had recently met Defence Minister A K Antony to push for the Tawang Airport.

The delegation also sought a clampdown on IPhone4, which has created confusion regarding the political status of Arunachal Pradesh in its features.

Gegong Apang Gets Conditional Bail

October 9, 2010

PTI8_24_2010_000202B Itanagar, Oct 9 : Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, arrested in connection with the multi- crore PDS scam, was today granted eight week’s conditional bail by the Gauhati High Court considering his health.

A division bench comprising justices I A Ansari and A C Upadhaya granted the conditional bail considering his health condition, said M S Chauhan, head of the Special Investigation Cell investigating the case.

Apang was directed not to leave the station without permission of the court and to cooperate with the SIC, he said.

Apang was arrested on August 24 by the SIC in the PDS scam case.

He was remanded in police custody for 14 days which ended on September 7. The court then extended his judicial remand till October 11 after rejecting his bail plea nine times.