As political heat between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh ratchets up, the state is also facing the challenging task of stopping border exodus as an increasing number of residents migrate to China and other neighbouring states in search of livelihoods.
Over the years, the Chinese have developed good infrastructure on their side while border areas in India are still backward. Feeling neglected, residents here are looking for “greener pastures” across the border.
While there are no definite figures of the number of people who have migrated to the Chinese side so far, state officials confirm stray incidents of “crossing sides” do take place.
“There may be stray instances of people from our side crossing over to China. But there is no large-scale migration,” said Ganesh Koyu, commissioner, Rural Works Department, Arunachal Pradesh.
He, however, admitted the lack of development and income-generating activities had resulted in large-scale migration from border areas to urban centres in states like Assam.
About infrastructure across the border, West Siang deputy commissioner Huzar Lollen said he had heard about it. “We haven’t seen it, only heard about it,” he said.
To address the migration issue, the government has initiated steps to expedite infrastructure development programmes in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh. “The government has identified 513 habitations along the 1,080-km India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh for infrastructure development,” sources in the Union Rural Development Ministry said.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana scheme, they said, roads would be laid in all 22 border blocks of 10 districts bordering China at a cost of Rs 550 crore. The state has a total of 33 border blocks in 12 districts.
The fresh war of words between India and China erupted with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement in Tawang on Sunday that Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of India.