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Governor’s letter to reconsider Arunachal green field airport project surprising, says CM Tuki

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Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh): Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on Saturday expressed deep shock and surprise on learning from the media that the state’s Governor, J P Rajkhowa, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to reconsider the decision to build the green field airport at Hollongi in view of its ‘high cost’ and the need for giving priority to upgrading the Lilabari airport in Assam.

Tuki said this decision was “completely against Arunachal Pradesh and its people.”

“This is a Government of India decision to provide an airport in every state capital on priority, and that too we have no airport. I requested Union Civil Aviation Minister Pashupati Ashok Gajapati Raju during my last meeting to accelerate clearance and allot funds to resume the work soon. He has consented to provide the funds in the revised estimates of the current Union Budget,” Tuki told media persons at the Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan here on the sidelines of the celebration of Rashtriya Sanklap Diwas.

“The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had decided on Banderdewa for a green field airport. After forest clearance and land acquisition and foundation laid by then Home Minister Shivraj Patil on 20.02.07, a AAI technical team rejected it on technical grounds like massive hill cutting, one way approach and the Lilabari airport nearby, but selected Hollongi as the new site,” Tuki said.

Asked about his next step, Tuki said he would talk to the governor, as such a move would be an injustice to the state’s people. Land has been allocated by the district administration. How can a major project in the greater welfare of the state be scrapped? If the statement of the Leader of Opposition, Tamiyo Taga, is correct, he should tender a public apology, he added.

I boarded a flight from Lilabari airport last month for Delhi and have been urging the Centre for its development too, for the benefit of Arunachal & north Assam. Boeings can land there now and its runway and infrastructures are ready, Tuki said.

When it was pointed out that the BJP is alleging that he possessed huge land in the demarcated airport areas, Tuki termed it as rubbish and asked the persons making those allegations to identify land supposedly owned by him.

Responding to a view that a few elected leaders, who had been appointed as chairmen were quitting because of the ongoing political upheaval in the state, Tuki, who was flanked by Legal Metrology, Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Tirong Aboh and APCC president Padi Richo, said his government is strong as the Congress being a grassroots-level party, has the mandate of the people in winning 42 seats in last state assembly elections.

“The government is functioning effectively and those quitting are not interested to serve the people and it is their own decision. Their decision is against the people and makes no difference. There is no dearth of capable people who are in queue, he said taking a dig at those who have resigned.

“I have appraised AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi recently and the CLP meeting would be held soon and the wrong doers would be issued show cause notice”, he added.

“Any internal Congress matter cannot be discussed in public and the BJP has no business to interfere in the matters of the Congress, which they have been repeatedly doing,” Tuki said when asked to reply about the allegation of civil society that the BJP was trying to topple the Congress Government.

Responding to questions on the Chakma-Hajong refugee imbroglio, Tuki said the September 17 Supreme Court directive to grant citizenship to refugees was shocking.

“The GoAP has already filed a review petition in the Supreme Court and I have called on the Prime Minister and the Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking their help in this regard,” he said.

The issue has been prolonging for the last 52 years and all efforts to find an amicable solution are yet to yield results, Tuki said, adding that it is not the time for the blame game, but to stand united for the welfare of the state’s people.

When asked if the Supreme Court sticks to its stand, what would he do, Tuki said, “That being the apex court, it is aware of the Constitutional protection of Arunachal and would protect the interest of country’s people first and I have full confidence in the judiciary.”

Meanwhile, Tamiyo Taga, however, in a signed statement today clarified that: “On 30th October, somebody introduced himself to me over telephone as a PTI correspondent and asked my opinion about upgradation of Lilabari airport.

I have suggested it would be very good which would carter to our need also. That does not mean that proposed Karsingsa or Holongi airport should be scrapped. Some section of the print media has misquoted my reply to PTI. The airport was given under PM package. Due to fight and none finalization of either of the sites, there is no possibility of building an airport here in near future. In this long gestation period, if Lilabari airport is upgraded, it will be useful for people of Arunachal also. That was my reply to correspondent. Rest statement I don’t know.

ANI