An-32 airdrops rice at Lada, 70 to 80% lost | Lokhande facilitated airlifting by Chinook

By Pradeep Kumar

ITANAGAR, Jun 04: Air dropping of rice by fixed wing An-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force at air-fed Lada in East Kameng district on June 2 resulted in about 70 to 80 per cent losses, repetition of Dami airdropping in May first week, food & civil supplies (FCS) department officer told this daily on Thursday.

Hinting at airlifting of 83 quintals of rice on May 28 by most advanced IAF Chinook chopper in two sorties from Miao to Vijoynagar, located along Indo-China-Myanmar tri-junction in Changlang district, he lauded Planning and Finance Commissioner Prashanta S Lokhande for his initiative in this regard. The airlifting was confirmed by Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeter.

“It was Lokhande who not only has through knowledge about our state but his wonderful contacts in central ministry resulted in Chinook chopper to lift rice to save the wastage caused by An-32 airdropping. Crediting FCS Minister Kamlung Mosang for this would not be right as mentioned in your news paper recently as Vijoynagar falls within his Miao assembly constituency where as he is responsible for ensuring supply to all air-fed stations of the state”, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Referring to loss at Lada, he said that though Vijoynagar has an advanced landing ground for An-32 landing, inaugurated by former governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh on 19.11.11, but some patches of the runway sinks during rainy days making it unsafe for landing though fixed wing choppers could land any time. This was told to CM Khandu during his last visit when he had sought a report from the department.

There were many far-flung places where essential commodities were airdropped under Central Purchase Organisation (CPO) system during NEFA days, but the number has reduced with better road connectivity, he said adding still there are 13 CPO centres where the FCS department had allocated 551.2 quintals of rice either for airdropping/lifting during March 23 to April 21 last.

The centre-wise quota was: Tali (109 quintals); Vijoynagar (104.2 Qntls); Monigong (76 Qntls); Pip-Sorang (60 Qntls); Damin (42 Qntls); Lada (24 Qntls); Pidi, Paris-Parlo, Chambang, Taksing & Desali (each 20 Qntls); Singha & Palling (each15 Qntls), he said.

If Chinook chopper could airlift to Vijoynagar whey not to other air-fed centres, he said, adding the district F&CS officer and DC of district concerned have to make official request for the state Govt to take steps. But despite requests, such request came only from Changlang district so far.

When contacted Namsai DC R K Sharma informed that the IAF chopper used to lift only CPO rice but not ration rice and brining small quantity of rice in civilian chopper was inadequate to bring the quota. With the announcement of 5 kg free rice to all the ration card holders of the state under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana gave the opportunity to send requisition for Chinook chopper as Changlang DC, he added.

Chinook has fully integrated digital cockpit management system, advanced cargo handling capabilities and electronic warfare suite that boosts its performance. It is capable of airlifting diverse military and non-military loads into remote locations for which the IAF had ordered 15 such choppers from M/s Boeing Ltd under its modernization plan and first batch of four were inducted into its inventory at Chandigarh Air Force station on 25.03.19.  That why sending requisition for airlifting rice by Chinook chopper to state’s 12 administrative circles would be advisable to prevent loss, the officer added.

Admitting that state’s unused eight advanced landing grounds (ALGs) were taken over by defence secretary Vijay Singh by inking a MoU with the state Govt on 13.07.09 in presence of then chief minister Dorjee Khandu and finance minister Kalipho Pul. This was announced by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to renovate them to cater to the need of civilians of the sparsely populated tribal state with poor road connectivity.

The ALGs were Walong, Tuting, Vijaynagar, Mechuka and Tawang (l close to Sino-India border), Aalo, Pasighat and Ziro, headquarters of West Siang, East Siang and Lower Subansiri districts. The ALGs at Ziro, Tezu, Mechuka, Vijoynagar and Pasighat are operational while those at Aalo, Nyapin and Daporijo are defunct due to land encroachment by local people, he added.

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