Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Donyi Polo, Arunachal Pradesh’s first greenfield airport on Saturday (19 November).
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “A new dawn of development for the Northeast! Launching connectivity and energy infrastructure projects in Arunachal Pradesh.”
Developed over a region of 690 acres and built at a cost of over Rs 640 crore, the Donyi Polo airport in Itanagar’s Hollongi is capable of day operations in every weather.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the airport’s name is an age-old indigenous reverence to the sun (Donyi) and moon (Polo) that represents the traditions and rich cultural heritage of Arunachal Pradesh.
“The airport terminal is a modern building, which promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling of resources,” PTI cited the PMO statement as saying.
The terminal can accommodate 300 passengers during peak hours, as per ThePrint.
Donyi Polo, which has a 2300 metre runway, will be Arunachal Pradesh’s third operational airport after Pasighat and Tezu airports. It will take the total airport count in the Northeast region to 16.
Why is the Donyi Polo airport significant for Arunachal Pradesh? How has the Narendra Modi government transformed the Northeast? Let’s take a closer look.
Significance of Donyi Polo
The Donyi Polo airport will boost connectivity, trade and tourism in the region, believes the central government.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu had said in September that the greenfield airport will be the first in the state with the capability of landing big planes, as per Northeast Now.
Khandu had also informed this airport will directly connect Arunachal to New Delhi.
Inspired by Arunachal Pradesh’s state bird, Arunachal chief minister had inaugurated the Great Hornbill Gate at the Donyi Polo airport on Wednesday.
Calling it an “architectural marvel”, the Arunachal chief minister said it is “made of bamboo and cane, it’s been designed by promising Arunachali architect Aroty Panyang from East Siang district”.
The Great Hornbill Gate, which welcomes you to iconic Donyi Polo airport, is an architectural marvel.
Made of bamboo and cane, it’s been designed by promising Arunachali architect Aroty Panyang from East Siang district.
Glad to have inaugurated the gate today. pic.twitter.com/b71jueQJKc
— Pema Khandu པདྨ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་། (@PemaKhanduBJP) November 16, 2022
“The capital city wasn’t connected by an airport before. Right now, we have tourists coming to the western and eastern belt. So, the airport will be great for tourism in the central belt,” Swapnil Naik, secretary at the civil aviation department of the Arunachal Pradesh government, told ThePrint.
“This [Donyi Polo airport] is very good for our state and people. It will make everything much more accessible and connected,” architect Aroty Panyang was quoted as saying by ThePrint.
PM Modi’s Northeast boost
Since coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the Narendra Modi-led government has pushed for bolstering infrastructure and connectivity.
Aaditya Tiwari, who has served as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Arunachal Pradesh’s chief minister wrote for India Today that earlier Northeast (NE) region was viewed only from the “lens of security”. He further claimed that the development of the region “never” became a priority before.
“There has been a marked shift in the approach of the Government of India lately. ‘Look East’ and the ‘Act East’ policy have changed the mindset of policymakers in New Delhi but prosperity depends on political commitment. Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, pointed out the fact that prime minister Narendra Modi has visited North East more than 50 times in his eight-year tenure,” Tiwari wrote for India Today.
He claimed Modi’s visits to the region are more than all other Prime Ministers combined.
Railway, airports and other projects
In July, BJP MP Raju Bista wrote for Firstpost that the since coming to power in 2014 the Modi government has sanctioned 19 projects, for a budget of Rs 77,930 crores to connect the NE region with the national rail grid.
According to Economic Times, the BJP-led Centre has converted 900 km of railway tracks to broad gauge in Tripura.
In 2016, the then railways minister Suresh Prabhu had laid the foundation stone for the 88-km Dhansiri-Kohima railway track, which will link Nagaland’s capital Kohima to the national railway network.
The railway track, estimated at a cost of Rs 6,648 crore, is expected to be completed by 2026, reports Eastern Mirror.
As per IANS report, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is planning to invest over Rs 95,261 crore on 21 projects in the NE region. It would include connecting the capitals of three Northeast states – Manipur (Imphal), Mizoram (Aizawl) and Meghalaya (Shillong) – by 2023 to the national railway network.
The capitals of Agartala, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are already connected by broad gauge railway lines.
“The Northeastern region of the country has received a significant infrastructure boost in the railway sector in the last eight years (2014-2022). Between 2014 and 2022, a total of 893.82 km of track have been converted to broad gauge, 386.84 km new lines added, 356.41 km double lines commissioned and survey of 1,578 km new lines were completed,” NFR’s chief public relations officer Sabyasachi De told IANS.
Also, the Modi government has introduced more than two dozen new trains in the Northeast region, as per Economic Times.
Citing the government’s official statement Northeast Today reported in June that 28 projects related to air connectivity have been completed between 2016-17 to 2021-22. Moreover, there are 15 ongoing projects that will likely be finished by March 2023.
The NE region currently boasts of two international airports – in Guwahati and in Imphal.
Under the regional connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) launched in 2016, a total of 15 operational airports have so far been developed in Northeast states, the government said, as per Northeast Today.
There were only nine airports in the NE region from 1947 to 2014, says the central government.
“In the last five years, a total of 237 projects have been undertaken, with approximately 3,099 km of road connectivity being developed across various parts of the Northeast,” as per Northeast Today report.
The government also aims to develop Sittwe Port and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project to transform the region into an “economic gateway to Southeast Asia”.
India has also pushed for the early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway which Economic Times describes as a “centerpiece” of ‘Act East’ policy that will uplift the regional economy.
Besides inaugurating Donyi Polo airport on Saturday, Modi will also dedicate 600 MW Kameng hydropower station to the nation which spreads over an area of 80 kilometre in the West Kameng district.
Developed at a cost of more than Rs 8,450 crore, the project will make Arunachal Pradesh a power-surplus state, says the PMO statement.
With inputs from agencies
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