Two proposed road stretches in Arunachal Pradesh - located about 200 km from the Indo-China border - that would not only improve internal connectivity within the state but also help defence forces to combat threat in border areas, has finally taken off the ground after two failed attempts.
The two-lane roads covering a stretch of 719 km and costing Rs 3,556 crore is part of the 2,319 km Arunachal Highway Package, the special road development project announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009, for the strategically placed state on India's eastern front.It shares a long disputed border with China. The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure cleared the twin project last week.
"The roads, scheduled to be completed in 2016, will not only help connect the state's eastern and western districts like Ziro, Daporizo, Bomdila to its capital Itanagar, but will facilitate security agencies to combat anti-national activities in border areas," said an official of the road transport and highway ministry, which will implement the project.
The road will also help in hydro power projects coming up in the state.
Experts say India should fast track road development projects in its border states. While China has stepped up road construction in its border adjoining India, Arunachal Pradesh, despite its strategic importance, continues to lag behind.
Compared to the national average of 73 km of road per 100 square kilometer, the average road length in the state is the lowest at 12.20 km per 100 sq. km. Air transport still remains the only mode of transport for large areas of the state.
Of the two stretches, one will connect Potin to Pangin (407 km) in east AP, the other will connect Nechipu to Hoj (311 km) in west AP on National Highway 229. At present, a substandard road exists on the stretch.
"We have cleared the formalities and the project will be awarded to two Hyderabad-based companies. They have been selected on a Built Operate Transfer (Annuity) basis," said the official.
The roads had failed to invite any bids the first time around, while the second time the bids were cancelled after the project failed to get environment clearance.
This is one of the four projects approved "in-principle" by the Cabinet on January 2009 under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North-East.
The total length of the package is 2,319 km. Of this, work in 417 km is ongoing.