Monday, May 31, 2010

No Airport for Tawang

The Chinese believe in the concept of dual-use for infrastructure facilities in the border areas (and elsewhere).  
Take this this airport in Tibet, it is much closer to the border (McMahon Line) than Tawang airport would have been. It is used every year by several lakhs of tourists visiting Nyingtri area and the gorges of the Brahmaputra. It does not pose a problem for the PLA or the defense authorities in Tibet. In case of conflict, it would be used for military purpose. Why can't for once India take a leaf out of China?
I know, the objection from Delhi will be: in case of an invasion, the Chinese can use our facilities, therefore it is better to have no facilities. 
Is not this argument a bit out-fashioned?

Govt abandons Tawang airport plan
The Asian Age
May 30th, 2010
Sridhar Kumaraswami
The state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) has abandoned its plans to build a civilian greenfield airport at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh after the Union government felt it would be too close to the Sino-Indian border.
“AAI will not construct an airport at Tawang. The government has made it clear that it would be too close to the Chinese border,” top government aviation sources confirmed to this newspaper. “As per the rules, no civilian airport should be built in the area which is less than 70 km from the Sino-Indian border. Tawang fell in that range. So, the Union government felt it was not advisable,” they said.
Two years ago, AAI had conducted a detailed feasibility study for the construction of an airport at Tawang. “It was found that the construction of an airport there was feasible. It would have been a viable proposition as it is a popular tourist destination,” sources said. However, it is going ahead with its move to construct another greenfield civilian airport at Itanagar, the state capital.
Tawang has often proven to be a flashpoint in Sino-Indian relations. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had overrun Tawang in the 1962 border war with India but withdrew after the military victory over India. China covets 90,000 sq. km of Arunachal Pradesh, including Tawang, and does not recognise it as Indian territory. In fact, China refers to Arunachal as “south Tibet” and covets Tawang since the Buddhist monastery at Tawang historically paid tribute to Tibet for centuries. China has also protested in recent times over the visits of Union government leaders to Arunachal.

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