An Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) located at Mechuka, a small town in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, has become operational with Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, of the Eastern Air Command formally inaugurating it on Monday.
Located at an elevation of about 1830 metres above sea level and close to China border, Mechuka was one of the several strategic locations during the 1962 war with China. Left unused and abandoned for a long time until a decision was taken in 2013 to reconstruct it, the IAF Works department completed the task in a record time of 30 months, Tezpur-based Defence PRO Lt Col Shombit Ghosh said.
“The strategic location of the ALG at Mechuka will make it a launching pad for the IAF operations as well as help the local administration in management of the border areas. The ALG will also provide air support in meeting various challenges during natural calamities by carrying out casualty evacuation and humanitarian assistance,” the Defence PRO said. It would also assist in routine supply of equipment and rations to the troops posted in far flung areas, he informed.
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The IAF had only in March this year made two other ALGs – at Ziro and Aalo – operational. With Mechuka becoming operational, the number of upgraded ALGs in the frontier state has gone up to four. About 500 kms by road from Itanagar, Mechuka is only 29 kms from the China border, and is already part of a major tourist circuit in the frontier state.
It was only last Friday that Arunachal Pradesh governor had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 65th Plenary session of the North Eastern Council in Shillong for opening 8 ALGs for civilian use and upgrading of 26 helipads spread across the state. Arunachal Pradesh, which shares 1080 kms of international boundary with China, continues to depend heavily on the IAF for reaching essential items to people in interior areas in the absence of a good road network.