) Amidst chanting of incantations by tribal priests, the spanking new Donyi Polo airport, the first greenfield facility in Arunachal Pradesh, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
The airport located at Hollongi, around 15 kilometres from the state capital Itanagar, will link the border state with other Indian cities with commercial flights as well as other parts of Arunachal Pradesh through helicopter services.
The airport's foundation stone was laid by Modi on February 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also dedicated the 600 MW Kameng hydropower project in the northeastern state’s West Kameng district to the nation.
Kameng hydropower project
The Kameng hydropower project has been developed at a cost of more than ₹8,450 crore in an area spread over more than 80 sq km.
It is expected to make Arunachal Pradesh a power-surplus state and benefit the national grid in terms of stability and integration.
“Connectivity and energy infrastructure will bring a new dawn of development for the northeastern region,” Modi said addressing the gathering at the airport.
The Prime Minister said that his government works 365 days, 24 by seven for the development of this country.
“I inaugurate the projects, the foundation stones of which are laid by me. Gone are the days of laid-back attitude,” he said.
Modi also asked political commentators to stop seeing everything through the prism of politics.
"Political commentators had claimed (in 2019) that the laying of the foundation stone for the airport was an election gimmick. But today when there are no elections due, we are launching this airport. This airport is a slap on their face," the prime minister said.
For long, the North East was neglected while today, the region gets top priority when it comes to development, he said.
Earlier, hamlets in border areas were considered “the last village” but now they are considered “the first village” Modi said.
Seven airports were built in the Northeast in the last eight years, he said adding that the region gets top priority, be it tourism or trade, telecom or textiles.
“Policy makers earlier only wanted to win elections while we only work for the development of the nation,” Modi said.
Officials estimate that it will service some 20 lakh people in the region and help boost connectivity, trade and tourism.
He also launched a coffee-table book on the central government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and state governor Brig (Retd) Dr B D Mishra were present on the occasion.
The naming of the airport reflects the reverence of the indigenous people of Arunachal for the sun (Donyi) and the moon (Polo), Khandu said in his address.
The Donyi Polo airport has been developed by the Airports Authority of India at an estimated cost of ₹645 crore. It will have eight check-in counters and can accommodate 200 passengers during peak hours, officials said.
He said that Arunachal Pradesh has a huge potential for hydroelectric power and several such projects have been approved by the central government.
Thanking the Prime Minister, he said that the Centre has approved ₹40,000 crore for building 2,500 kilometres of roads.