Apang arrest, boundary issues grabbed headlines in Arunachal

Itanagar, Dec 19 : Former chief minister Gegong Apang's arrest in a multi-crore scam, resurfacing of boundary problem with Assam, mass movement against upcoming mega dams and insurgent activities were some of the events that made news during the year in Arunachal Pradesh. Twelve defence personnel including a Lt Colonel were killed on November 19 after their MI-17 Air Force helicopter crashed in Tawang close to the borders with China. The chopper had got airborne from Tawang for Guwahati and at 12.05pm it went down near Bomdir.

The Dorjee Khandu government's decision to grant permanent resident certificates (PRCs) to non-Arunachalees rocked the state with many organisations spearheaded by All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) launching a series of agitations including bandhs.

One of these protests in Lohit district turned violent in which some people were injured in police firing and later the state government revoked its order.

Alleged incursions by Chinese Army personnel also made news. Lok Sabha MP Takam Sanjoy raised concern over the reported incursion bid at Tawang. In a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sanjoy said Chinese Army intruded into Indian territory four times during the year.

Apang, who ruled the state for a long 23 years, was arrested by a Special Investigating Cell on August 24 for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore PDS scam. Though his bail plea was rejected nine consecutive times, the Gauhati High Court on October 8 granted him conditional bail for eight weeks.

The boundary dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh took an ugly turn during the year with All Assam Students' Union (AASU) resorting to an economic blockade in August.

A series of protest rallies were launched in the state by anti-dam activists demanding scrapping of various MoUs and MoAs signed between Arunachal and power developers. Various organisations also protested implementation of mega power projects including Lower Subansiri Power Project at Gerukamukh and Lower Siang Hydro Electric Project at Siang Valley.

Often, described as the future power house of India, Arunachal Pradesh with a hydropower potential of over 50,000 MW made rapid strides in the sector during the year.

Handing over several projects to private companies to generate power was the most significant one. CESC Ltd announced investing Rs 630 crore for setting up a 90-MW hydel power plant in Arunachal Pradesh.

On the political front, PWD Minister Nabam Tuki was re-elected as president of Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee.

Work on establishment of green-field airports here besides airports at Pasighat, Along Daporijo, Ziro and Tezu including rail connectivity from Harmutty in Assam to Itanagar and introduction of regular helicopter service between Guwahati and Tawang were some of the high points of the year.

The state cabinet also approved creation of two new districts Longding and Lower Siang, bifurcating Tirap and West Siang districts.

The law-and-order scenario remained grim in the state during the year with many incidents of kidnapping and killings reported.

Senior Maharashtra bureaucrat Vijay S Bardekar was kidnapped from West Kameng district on May 13 by anti-talk faction of the NDFB and released from captivity after 78 days. Bardekar was conducting research on butterflies in the state.

Militants also made abortive attempts to kidnap three officials of Gammon India Limited including its project manager S K Nath from East Kameng district on October 24 while unidentified militants kidnapped an official of Arunachal Pradesh Mineral Development & Trading Corporation Limited (APMDTCL) from Kharsang in Changlang district on November 25.

At least 38 militants were killed in gunfights with security forces while 121 rebels surrendered.

NDFB militants gunned down eight Arunachal government employees at Seijosa bordering Assam's Sonitpur district in November.

Floods and landslides besides epidemic claimed 45 lives in the state during the year. The world famous Tawang Buddhist monastery faced extinction threat due to large scale landslips.