A developmental journey for Pema Khandu Government
Itanagar: Political turn-over, Chinese incursion, Chakma-Hajong refugee row and PRC issue along with development trajectory by the state government led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu kept Arunachal in news during 2018. The year witnessed a major shift in the political scenario with the National Peoples’ Party (NPP), the party from neighbouring Meghalaya, could able to set a footprint in the state’s political history by gaining seven MLAs without contesting the 2014 battle of ballots.
The party led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma received a shot in its arm duing July, when seven out of nine Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) MLAs switch over to the party’s fold. Taking U turns, the remaining two PPA MLAs on September 20 joined the Congress. After the development, the PPA, the lone regional party of the state had left with no MLA in the 60-member state assembly. In early January, a similar Doklam-like situation brewed up at Gelling in Upper Siang district of the state with reports of a Chinese road-building team had entered the state’s territory with bulldozers on December 28, 2017.
According to local villagers, Indian soldiers confronted their Chinese counterparts and seized their road construction machines including two excavators. They added that Chinese soldiers were involved in road construction in that area. Villagers said the Chinese had constructed more than one km road near Bishing village, the last border outpost. In another development during the year, Siang river, considered as the lifeline of the state, had turned black and muddy at various places and locals suspected China’s role behind the phenomenon.
Siang originates in China and then enters India through Arunachal Pradesh. It is then joined by two other rivers—Dibang and Lohit—as it enters Assam where it is called the Brahmaputra. People in the state, especially those in Pasighat in East Siang district, have complained about rise in mud level in the river. Ninong Ering, Congress MP from the state susected the flow of mud into the river could be a result of a possible river diversion by China.
China has been planning to dig the world’s longest tunnel to change the course of Yarlung Tsangpo from Tibet towards Taklimakan desert in Xinjiang but has been denying the same at public platforms. Post the landslide over Yarlung Tsangpo River (Siang in Arunachal Pradesh, Brahmaputra in Assam) in Milin county of Tibet in China, several materials from China are being washed by the river floating downstream into India on October 23.
According to reports, several people residing near the river found a gas cylinder and many empty drums. The cylinder and the barrels has Chinese letters (unidentified if Cantonese or Mandarin) inscribed on it which the villagers could not decipher. Chakma & Hajong refugee row and state government’s announcement to grant Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) to non-tribal communities residing in the state also hogged the limelight during the year.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein’s announcement in a public meeting at Namsai had evoked strong resentment among the community based organisations who demanded the state government to withdraw the announcements and take decision only after submission of the report by the Joint High Power Committee constituted under Environment and Forest Minister Nabam Rebia.
Several organisations also resorted to democratic movement over the issue. The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) while opposing granting of citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees made its stand clear on the imbroglio stating that the people of the frontier state would not accept citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees at any cost.
The year also witnessed crisis in the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) following a question paper fiasco in the preliminary examination of combined exams.
The candidates even staged dharna in several locations of the state capital and even boycotted the mains exam demanding fresh conduct of examination after resolving all the issues.
In the run up to the assembly elections due early next year, Chief Minister Pema Khandu launched the two months Arunachal Rising Campaign throughout the state since November to make people aware about all the flagship programme and schemes launched in the state by the Centre and the state.
The year remained significant for the BJP government in the state in terms of action, performance and effective deliverance of all round development.
The state witnessed faster change, greater transparency and unprecedented development in all sectors under Chief Minister Pema Khandu. To further penetrate government policies and its benefits to the remote corners, the government launched the path breaking initiative “Sarkar Aapke Dwar” with an aim to organise more than 250 administrative camps across the state. Under the scheme, more than 40 departments reached out to the people to provide them services at their doorsteps. More than two lakh people were benefitted from the programme.
The state Legislative Assembly enacted landmark Arunachal Pradesh Land Settlement and Records Amendment Bill to recognize crucial ownership right to the indigenous people of the state which would lead to real price discovery of the land and to usher in economic revolution in the state.
Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act 1997 has also been amended where the three tier Panchayati Raj system has been replaced by two tier system - Gram Panchayat and Zilla Parishad to expedite planning process, quicken decision making and fast track development.
Some of the path breaking initiatives of the government during the year includes, Mukhya Mantri Rogi Kalyan Kosh to provide flexible pool of resources to district level societies for procurement of drugs, maintenance of hospital infrastructure, hiring of specialist doctors, organising health camps, Chief Minister’s Samast Shiksha Yojana to create district level societies for decentralised planning, Chief Minister’s Adarsh Pathshala Yojana to establish one model school in each district, Chief Minister’s Sashakt KisanYojana for creation of Agricultural Development Society in each district and District Innovation and Challenged Fund. In order to streamline and check corruption in government procurement, the government during the year launched Government eMarket place (GeM) program.
The state assembly on August 29 had passed a bill for creation of three new districts - Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi - in the state. The Pakke-Kessang district has been carved out of East Kameng district with five administrative units namely Pakke-Kessang, Seijosa, Pijiriang, Passa Valley and Dissing Passo with district headquarters at Lemmi.
The Lepa Rada district was created by bi-furcating the Lower Siang district with headquarters at Basar. The district has four administrative units – Tirbin, Basar, Daring and Sago.
The Shi-Yomi district, created by bi-furcating the West Siang district with its headquarters at Tato. The district has four administrative units namely Mechuka, Tato, Pidi and Manigong. The government also erected a 10.5 feet bronze statue of musical icon Dr Bhupen Hazarika at Bolung village in Lower Dibang Valley district. The law and order scenario in the state during the year remained grim with underground cadres intensifying extortion bids in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts.
Security forces also gunned down two hardcore NSCN (K) militant in an ambush Longding district while more than 24 cadres of NSCN (IM), NSCN (K), NSCN (R) and ULFA were arrested during the year with huge cache of arms and ammunitions. Several murder and rape cases were also reported from the state during the year.
Suspected ULFA (I) militants also kidnapped a Tea Estate Manager from Lekang in Namsai district who were later released. Over hundred houses have been completely gutted in devastating fire in the state during the year. Flood and landslides lashed several district in the state causing massive damages to hundreds of dwellings besides snapping power supply and surface communications in several districts.