2007: A year of political upheavals for Arunachal

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Itanagar, Dec 22: Arunachal Pradesh witnessed political upheavals, repeated Chinese claims over Arunachal territory, re-surfacing of the boundary problem with Assam and major initiatives to re-open border trade with the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, besides opening up of the state's power sector, during the year 2007.

The year witnessed the historic turnaround in the state politics with Gegong Apang being dethroned as Chief Minister by his own party colleague Dorjee Khandu. Mr Apang's 23-year-long innings as the state's chief minister came to an end on April 9, after an 11-day political drama in New Delhi by the Congress MLAs and ministers, who upped the ante against Mr Apang and dethroned him.

Other political developments of the year were revitalisation of the People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) on August 22 with former Arunachal Congress (AC) President Kamen Ringu as its president. The AC was floated on the most contentious Chakma-Hajong refugee issue in 1995, with the Congress legislators, led by Mr Apang, deserting the ruling Congress bag and baggage to join it.

The BJP in the state also received a jolt with eight of its total nine legislators deserting it to join the ranks of the Congress on June 4.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also lost both its members to the Congress on September 21. With this, the strength of the Congress, which had snared 34 seats during the 2004 assembly elections, swelled to 44 in a 60-member house, while the AC had two MLAs and remaining 14 were Independents.

The Arunachal Front, the fifth English daily in the state, hit news stands on August 29, while 'Sonam', the first full-fledged celluloid Monpa film, reflecting Monpa culture, was released.

On the developmental front, the state recorded several achievements. The most significant ones were the streamlining of the Public Distribution System (PDS), revival of the Arunachal Pradesh Cooperative Apex Bank and facilitating the entry of private power developers, which enriched the state coffers by over Rs 158.64 crore.

Poised as the future power house of the country with 23,591 mega watt hydro power potential, involving 42 projects, the state has already accepted the offer of 14 power companies to exploit the potential in the national interest. The state also earned a revenue of over Rs 158.64 crore as processing and upfront premium from 35 projects with a proposed capacity of 13,361 mega watt.

Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu's constant pursuance at New Delhi bore fruit in the form of several rounds of tour by top ranking officials from Food Corporation of India (FCI) to the state and the subsequent nod to open six new base depots at Daporijo (Upper Subansiri), Ziro (Lower Subansiri), Anini (Dibang Valley), Tawang (Tawang), Tezu (Lohit) and Seppa in East Kameng to strengthen the PDS and to ensure adequate food supply in every nook and cranny of the state.

The sick apex bank of the state was also revived during the year as promised by Mr Khandu, immediately after he became Chief Minister.

The state, during the year, took an advance loan of Rs 225 crore from the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) for reviving the Arunachal Pradesh State Cooperative Apex Bank, which would be adjusted by 2013 against the power royalty to be earned from various power projects to be commissioned by the NHPC.

Several railway projects were also cleared from the Centre. One of the major issues that rocked the state was the Chinese claim over Arunachal's territory. Several organisations also staged their protests on various platforms, while the lone Rajya Sabha and two Lok Sabha MPs from the state raised the issue on the floor of Parliament. A border dispute with Assam shattered the state in 2007.

Emboldened by the impact of globalisation and New Delhi's 'Look East' policy, Arunachal Pradesh has taken many a remarkable step during 2007 to serve as a gateway to Southeast Asia, once the proposed historic Stillwell Road reopens. Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, during his visit to the state in November, had assured to look after the Rs 175 lakh proposal for the development of the Stillwell Road and the border trade centre (BTC) at Nampong in Changlang district and the beautification of Nampong Township, while inaugurating the BTC at Nampong.

In the health sector, the state witnessed several developments during the year. The state government, for the first time, purchased 32 mobile medical units, two each for 16 districts, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

To showcase the state's tourism potential, several mega tourism events were organised in the state during the year.

Initiatives were also taken in the state during 2007 for the development of infrastructure with many central schemes being implemented by various government departments.

The year also saw a series of agitations by students and other organisations, the most remarkable being the demand for removal of Professor Kalyan Kumar, Director of North East Regional Institute of Science and Technology (NERIST) by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU), for his alleged plagiarism, followed by the demand of removal of state Chief Secretary Tabom Bam for his alleged anti-Nyishi attitude by various Nyishi organisations.

Scams in various departments, including illegal appointments in Social Welfare and Child Development Department, surfaced in the state during the year.

The law and order situation in 2007 was no too stable either. The year had experienced a rise in insurgent activities, particularly in Tirap and Changlang districts. Altogether 15 insurgents were killed and four arrested, while 11 NSCN activists turned themselves in.


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