GUWAHATI, July 24 - Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu laid stress on the need for improvement of relations between Assam and Arunachal and said that he would like to have talks with his Assam counterpart to try and ensure that peace is maintained along the inter-State border areas. He also said that the Central Government should take up special programmes for the development of the international border areas in Arunachal Pradesh.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Khandu said, �Being the gateway to the Northeast, Assam is like a big brother to all the States of the region and we must make all-out efforts to maintain a cordial relationship. All the States of the region must live like a family.�
He said that he would like to have detailed talks with Assam Chief Minister as soon as possible to sort out the differences on inter-State boundary so that the people of both the States can live together peacefully.
On the apprehension among the people of Assam on the construction of dams in Arunachal Pradesh, Khandu said that he would discuss the issue with the Government of Assam. He said that safety would be the main priority on the construction of the dams and he would like to take the people of Assam into confidence on the issue. He also pointed out that power generation would not only help Arunachal Pradesh, but also Assam and other States of the region in a big way.
On the security of Arunachal Pradesh considering the fact that it has international border with China (which he termed as Tibet-China), Myanmar and Bhutan, Khandu said that guarding the international border is primarily the responsibility of the Government of India. He, however, said that the Government of India should take up mega plans for the development of the international border areas so that the people living in those areas are provided with all basic amenities and they do not feel threatened.
The Centre should also expedite the implementation of the Frontier Highway project, he added. In this regard, he pointed out that creation of two battalions of Arunachal Scouts with local boys was a big help to the Army personnel deployed along the international border as the youths know the terrain well. Moreover, the scheme also provided employment opportunities to the local youths, he added.
Replying to a question, Khandu admitted that political instability affected development of Arunachal Pradesh for some time. He said that there was some misunderstanding among Congress men, which resulted in political instability. However, he said that the misunderstandings have been removed as all the Congress legislators have elected him the leaders of the Congress legislature party. He hoped to create a �team Arunachal Pradesh� by taking into account the views and sentiments of all the tribes and sub-tribes living in the State.
He also admitted that the expectations were high because his father Dorjee Khandu was a popular chief minister of the State.
On his priorities as the Chief Minister, Khandu said that though the priorities of the Government would be finalised only after the formation of the Cabinet, he has some vision on the requirements of the people of the State. The first and foremost priority will be improvement of communication network and work on social sectors like health, education, water supply etc.
Khandu pointed out that because of the terrain, communication is still a major issue in Arunachal Pradesh and construction of roads would be a big challenge. He said that he would put pressure on the Centre for construction of railway lines along the foothills of the State. As some parts of the State are still inaccessible by road, air connectivity is a must. The Government of India has been providing subsidies for helicopter services in Arunachal Pradesh and he would again take up the matter with the Centre for increasing the subsidies. He is planning to hold talks with aviation companies to increase helicopter services in the State.
Replying to a question, Khandu admitted that helicopter crashes in the State have become a cause of concern and said that safety would be kept in mind while introducing new helicopter services. Only the companies, which strictly adhere to the safety norms laid down by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, would be allowed to operate in the State, he added.