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Anthony promises aid to Arunachal

Itanagar, Feb 20 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday launched a five-day silver jubilee celebrations of Arunachal Pradesh's statehood, promising all assistance to develop the strategic border state.

Addressing a large gathering at the Indira Gandhi Park here, Antony, donning a traditional Arunachali dress and headgear, stressed the state's geo-strategic importance to India and assured that the central government will leave no effort to develop both its border and interior areas.

Improvement of accessibility and infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh is the top priority of the central government due to its 'highly sensitive' location, he said, while announcing other measures too.

'The central government has decided to raise Arunachal Scouts Battalion and take steps for early completion of the proposed Advanced Landing Grounds considering the strategic importance of the state.' he said.

Arunachal shares 1,680 square km of international border with China, Myanmar and Bhutan.

He announced that a National Institute of Mountaineering and Adventure Sports (NIMAS) will be set up at Dirang in West Kameng district.

Voicing concern about the condition of people living in bordering areas, he said the government will ensure development of each part, adding that the completion of the trans-Arunachal highway will provide connectivity to most places in the state.

The Rs.5,500 crore two-lane highway project is expected to connect 12 out of total 16 district headquarters of the state with the state capital.

Meanwhile, the government's proposals to provide connectivity to 22 administrative units in the state, construction of foot suspension bridges, log bridges and porter tracks in border areas as well as providing drinking water facilities in border areas were also under onsideration, Antony.

Referring to the power projects coming up in the state, the minister said that Arunachal Pradesh was going to be the future powerhouse of the country.

'The state can earn revenue to the tune of Rs.10,000 crore annually only by selling its power,' he said.

'However, the real challenge lies in ensuring that these projects get implemented as per schedule and distribution of this wealth among the people is equitable,' he said.

Ecological concerns, he added, should also be taken care of.

Besides a show of colourful folk dance and music programmes, the day's celebration was marked by an air show by Sukhoi-30s of the Indian Air Force and various stunts by the Tornado team.

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