As Arunachal Pradesh pursues a series of infrastructure projects to boost connectivity, the state government is also showcasing its culture and diverse traditions through events such as the Tawang Festival.
“We have 26 tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes and each one is different from the other in their language, cuisine and architecture of the house. Being an Arunachali, when I travel to other parts of the state, it is new for me as well,” said Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
The just-concluded Tawang Festival in Arunachal, which is fast becoming a major tourist attraction, saw a footfall of 40,000. The annual festival, which celebrates Arunachal’s rich cultural heritage, includes Buddhist religious functions, traditional dances, indigenous sports, films and documentaries, food festivals and more.
Watch | Tawang Festival 2019
Khandu said no other state in the region has so many festivals like Arunachal, which also hosts Orange Festival, Ziro musical festival, Bascon organic festival to celebrate tribal arts and Mechuka Adventure festival, among others.
Khandu also said the state would benefit from a separate time zone and a cadre for effective administration.
“While travelling to Arunachal Pradesh, you will have to cross Bhutan, which is half-an-hour ahead of us. We are the northernmost and easternmost state of India and we are ahead of Bhutan in the northeastern region,” he said and pointed out that a separate time zone would increase daylight savings and efficiency.
Thirty four years after it got statehood, Arunachal Pradesh, the largest state of the Northeast, is still struggling in terms of development. Khandu said a “challenging topography” is one of the factors behind this.
Acknowledging the hard work of the UT cadre officials, Khandu said absence of continuity is still an issue. “One officer is posted for two years and you take more than a year to understand the area. Like Sardar Patel said, bureaucracy is the steel frame in the democracy where governments come and go. With officials coming and going, there is no institutional memory, government function does not catch up. If there is a separate cadre, development work will be expedited,” he said.
Khandu joined the BJP in 2016 with 33 MLAs from the Congress. “BJP respects the system of the region. Our tribals eat meat, including that of cow and pork. There is no restriction,” he asserted.
When asked about the BJP-led central government’s attempts to bring in a Uniform Civil Code, the chief minister was evasive. Jitendra Narayan, Principal Resident Commissioner of the state, who accompanied the Chief Minister, maintained that the controversial issue was not among the state government’s areas of concern. “We have to get roads and other developments,” Narayan said.
Listing infrastructure projects that have been expedited, Khandu said the 1700-km Trans Arunachal Highway, initiated by his father and former chief minister late Dorji Khandu is almost complete. A railway project to connect the state with Assam is also in its primary stage, he said.
The ministry of civil aviation and the IAF has identified location for an airport in Tawang, Khandu added.
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