For the ‘land of rising sun’ infrastructure deficiency seems to be the biggest hurdle for its progress. Those who have dared to tap the potential of Arunachal Pradesh which is estimated to have 27,000 MW hydro electric generation potential are finding it difficult to move even a bag of cement due to inadequate infrastructure facilities and poor law and order situation prevailing in the North Eastern state.
Presently, roads connecting Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, to Guwahati, is in poor condition thus making the travel by road a time consuming exercise. Also frequent bandh calls given by locals have only aggravated the issue. So power developers (through Association of Power Producers) are pitching for an airport at Itanagar which will help the movement to and from the project sites of top level executives and consultants. Also by allowing the commercial aircrafts to use some of the existing airstrips in the state, logistic problems could be solved to great extent, say people who are involved in the project development in the state. For example, in Siang district where hydro electric projects aggregating 7,677 MW are coming up, there is an airstrip which the commercial aircrafts cannot use. Similarly, by allowing the commercial aircrafts to land at Tezu airstrip a total of 9 projects aggregating 7,282 MW could benefit.
Apart from air connectivity, there is also urgent need for improving road connectivity. Existing roads have to be widened and also strengthened to facilitate the movement of heavy cargo required for hydro electric power projects. However, most of the road projects are moving ahead at snail’s pace. Proposed 1,505 Km Trans-Arunachal Highway, executed by Border Roads Organization (BRO) and Public Works Department (PWD), needs to be implemented on war footing basis to avoid HEP projects overshooting their time schedule. While PWD has almost completed awarding of contracts for this project, BRO has not yet finalized DPR for most sections. Future progress of some of the HEP projects like Dibang valley project largely depends on timely completion of this road project. Also there is an urgent need for restoration of Ippi pani bridge which was washed away in flash floods last year.
Other than logistic problems faced by the hydro power developers in the state, administrative red-tapism is another area which needs to be addressed to help speedy clearance of various projects. A case in point is the Environment Ministry guidelines entailing adherence to the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2007 as one of the pre-conditions for forest clearance. Because of this provision most of the road projects are facing delay as getting clearance under this Act is a Herculean task. While BRO projects are exempted from these provisions, PWD projects still have obtain clearance under this Act.
Power developers say urgent action is needed on all these fronts because progress of 27,000 MW power projects is at stake.