Thank You, China
Most improved small state
The China angle is working to Arunachal Pradesh’s advantage. Thanks to heightened threat perception from the bigger neighbour, India’s land of the rising sun has witnessed a rise in capital flow from New Delhi. “The 1,700-odd-km long international border and irrational claims by our international neighbour makes it obligatory on our part to leave no stone unturned in the development of this area,” says former chief minister Jarbom Gamlin. Suddenly, India has awakened to the hidden potential of this strategically important border state. Investments have started coming in as a consequence.
In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 1,452crore economic package for infrastructure development in the state. But it’s not just the Centre which is pumping money into the state. In the last four years, the state government has signed over 150 Memorandums of Agreement ( MOA) with hydropower developers to generate more than 63,000 MW over the next decade. The amount that would be invested could run into several lakh crores, given that producing one MW power requires an investment of Rs 7 crore. NTPC, India’s biggest thermal power producer, plans to set up the country’s largest hydropower plant on the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh. The 9,500 MW project will require an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore spread over a period of 10 years.
The MOA rush on the part of the Gamlin government is explained by a clause in the national hydropower policy which provides for 12 per cent free power to the host state. When all projects are completed, Arunachal Pradesh will get 7,560 MW of free power against an estimated demand of only 105 MW. By a very conserva- tive evaluation, the state will earn at least Rs 10,000 crore a year by selling the excess hydropower. To put things in perspective, Arunachal Pradesh’s current budget is Rs 2,500 crore. “That’s hypothetical, but we expect a turnaround in the next 10 years. We hope that the money promised on paper translates into action,” says Gamlin.