November 1, 2014

India may build airport at Tawang, near China border

Minister of state for external affairs V K Singh on Friday said India was hopeful of building an airport in Tawang while the work on another airport at Pashighat in Arunachal Pradesh was underway.

"But there is a problem with land availability there (in Tawang)," Singh, who is also in charge of the northeast affairs, told Indian journalists here.

"The land acquisition problem for the airport in Itanagar, Arunachal's capital, has just been sorted out." Singh added the government is planning airfields in Arunachal Pradesh for smaller aircraft.

Singh said the government plans to create a separate company in collaboration with the Indian Airlines to operate small aircraft in the northeast.

He added new highways are being planned as part of the efforts initiated for major infrastructure development in the region. The railway budget for the region has been increased by 58%.

The visiting Indian minister's statement in Beijing is significant as China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own.

Singh discussed new measures to examine risks Chinese dams pose in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra.

Experts claim the dams have made India vulnerable to flash floods and reduced water supply. They say China would now control water flow from the upper reaches.

Singh said the government would commission a study to examine the impact of the dams. "It is essential to re-examine studies done in the past. It is only after through study that the risk posed by Tibetan dams could be determined," he said.

"In the early 1950s, a major earthquake took place and changed the course of Brahmaputra. The river bed also went up. We have to see how much water comes from China, and how much is contributed by its different tributaries like the Lohit."

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