The Siang – as the Tsangpo is called as it enters India from China to later become the Brahmaputra in Assam – on Friday got its first bridge closest to the international border with Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu inaugurating a newly-constructed steel suspension bridge at Kodak near Tuting. The 210-metre bridge made of steel suspended from six steel wires from two towers on each bank at an estimated cost of Rs 3.89 crore, also consigned to pages of history a traditional hanging bridge made of woven bamboo and cane that people had used to walk across the river for the past several decades. People from Zido, Ngaming, Tasigaon, Simuge and Singa – all villages on the left bank of the Siang would now be able to drive cars to their respective villages as also commute to the sub-divisional town of Tuting by road.
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Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Pema Khandu rued the fact that years of isolation due to lack of connectivity in the area bordering China in Tuting sub-division of Upper Siang district had forced people to migrate to urban centres. “Our government is committed to construct more roads and bridges to improve connectivity to the remote border villages,” Khandu said.
Tuting, about 35 km from the India-China boundary in Upper Siang district, is about 630 km by road from Itanagar, and remains cut off from the rest of the world due to frequent landslides during the monsoon months. It is also a major take-off point for white-water rafting expeditions that Arunachal Pradesh has started aggressively promoting in the past few years.
Khandu also expressed displeasure that Singa, the last frontier village on the Indian side of the international boundary, was not yet complete. “I am informed that the road to Singa, the last frontier village on the Indian side some 94 kms from Tuting, is yet to be completed. Our government will make it sure that the road is completed very soon,” he said.
Local legislator and rural development minister Alo Libang informed the chief minister that about 30 villages in the sub-division, mostly close to the international boundary, were yet be connected by roads.
Deputy chief minister Chowna Mein on the other hand said numerous roads were coming up fast across the state and work on the Trans-Arunachal Highway was also progressing well. “However, these road projects will not be complete till bridges are constructed at all required places. As our state is endowed lavishly with rivers, hundreds of bridges will have to be constructed,” he said.