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India’s decision to utilize its newly constructed Tuting military airport near the China border for civilian flights is being hailed by Narendra Modi supporters as indicative of the current Government’s resolve to stare down China.

India now wants to develop its frontier region as a tourist destination so that it can populate remote areas close to Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the de facto border with China is called. Starting civilian aircraft in a frontier region may have deeper significance in terms of counterbalance Chinese aggression in frontier region. 

But the truth is more prosaic. The landmark 1996 India-China agreement on maintaining peace and tranquility on the border contains no provisions about civilian flights near the border. The 2005 protocol that further defines the 1998 only prohibits military flights 10 km from the LAC. 

The newly constructed Tuting ALG is just 18 miles away from LAC and is the second Indian town on the River Siang (Yarlung Tsangpo in China). 

The ALG at Tuting was inaugurated by Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu in the presence of Eastern Air Command chief C Hari Kumar. The ALG has been upgraded with a full-fledged runway and all the associated facilities and will be also used for civilian purpose as well.

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