Thank You, China

Most im­proved small state

India Today - - THE STATE OF THE STATES - By Kaushik Deka

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.

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