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The proposed strategic railway line to Tawang on the China border received a major boost with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman telling Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu in Itanagar on Saturday that requisite funds for its survey would be released soon. She also said that the advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in the state would be soon also opened up for civilian use.
“The defence minister assured that the IAF infrastructural facilities in the ALGs shall be permitted for civilian use. She also assured that requisite funds shall be released for conducting survey for laying the strategic railway line from Missamari (Assam) to Tawang,” a press release issued by the chief minister’s office in Itanagar said. Sitharaman, who arrived in Itanagar on her maiden two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh – a state that shares 1090 km of international boundary with China – on Saturday also discussed setting up an airport at Dirang, about 130 km short of Tawang, with the CM’s office saying the proposal would be given due consideration.
The union defence minister, who was accompanied by a team of senior defence ministry officers including Secretary (Defence), GoC-in-C (Eastern Command), the GoCs of 3 and 4 Corps, also discussed issues related to land acquisition for various defence-related issues. While state chief minister raised the urgent need to establish a cantonment in the capital area of Itanagar, Sitharaman assured that this would be accorded high priority. The state government has committed to identify a plot of 50 acres for the purpose.
Sitharaman also gave an in-principle approval for establishment of three Sainik Schools in the frontier state – one each in Tawang, Pasighat and the Tirap-Changlang-Longding (TCL) belt, the CM’s office said. Responding to chief minister Khandu’s plea to expedite the making the Brigade headquarters in Tirap district operational as early as possible in order to deal with the problem of insurgency in the region, the defence minister assured that the Brigade headquarter would be made operational by December 2018.
On the issue of strengthening the strategic Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road, Sitharaman assured the chief minister that the Border Roads Organization (BRO) would be given clear directions for the same, the CM’s office said.