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Proximity of Cement Factories to Air Force Station Digaru Poses National Security Threat, Warns Think Tank

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HT Digital

June 21, Friday: The Centre for Efficient Governance, a prominent think tank, has sounded the alarm over a critical national security threat posed by the proximity of several cement factories to Air Force Station Digaru. This base is a premier logistical hub for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Northeast India, housing the vital 51 Air Stores Park responsible for storing significant military hardware.

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In a recent press release, the think tank highlighted that Star Cement’s factory is a mere 2.4 kilometers from the base, the under-construction Daivik Cement factory is 2.7 kilometers away, and the proposed Taj Cement factory is just 1.9 kilometers from the base. The Centre for Efficient Governance emphasized that the cumulative impact of dust pollution, mechanical vibrations, and heat generated by these factories could severely compromise the integrity of the military hardware stored at the station.

A retired IAF officer, who wished to remain anonymous, corroborated these concerns. “The location of Digaru was selected by the Indian Air Force for its dust-proof atmosphere, along with other strategic considerations. During my service, Air Force Station Digaru stored some state-of-the-art weapon systems. I have good reasons to believe that AFS Digaru still houses weapon systems that will be negatively affected if exposed to the small particle dust emissions from nearby cement factories,” he said.

Rakesh Hazarika, Executive Director of the Centre for Efficient Governance, elaborated on the broader implications for national security. “The combustion processes of cement factories release particulate matter of sizes 2.5 to 10 micrometres into the atmosphere. The PM 2.5 and PM 10 emissions near Air Force Station Digaru are not just an environmental issue but a serious national security threat,” he asserted. Hazarika also highlighted that the proposed Taj Cement factory had misled authorities in its Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report by falsely claiming that no defense installations were near its project site, raising serious concerns about transparency.

Hazarika warned of the potential for man-made disasters due to the close proximity of these factories to the Air Force base. “Any incident at these cement factories could trigger catastrophic consequences for the base, impacting national security,” he cautioned. He called for immediate government action to study the adverse effects of emissions on military hardware and to implement necessary mitigation measures.

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The Centre for Efficient Governance’s report has sparked significant concern among defense experts and environmentalists alike. The combination of dust emissions, mechanical vibrations, and excessive heat can accelerate the wear and tear of sensitive military equipment, potentially rendering critical defense systems inoperable or less effective. The think tank’s findings suggest that without immediate intervention, the operational readiness of Air Force Station Digaru could be severely compromised.

The think tank has urged the government to address this pressing issue promptly to safeguard national security and protect the integrity of Air Force Station Digaru. They recommend conducting a comprehensive environmental and security assessment to evaluate the full extent of the risk posed by the nearby cement factories. This should include detailed studies on particulate matter emissions, mechanical vibrations, and other environmental factors that could affect military hardware.

Moreover, the Centre for Efficient Governance advocates for stricter regulatory oversight to prevent future instances of misleading information in environmental impact assessments. They stress the need for enhanced transparency and accountability in the approval processes for industrial projects near sensitive defense installations.

The potential threat to Air Force Station Digaru underscores the broader need for more rigorous environmental and security standards in industrial planning. Ensuring that critical military bases remain protected from industrial pollution and other environmental hazards is not only a matter of national security but also of strategic importance for maintaining the country’s defense capabilities.

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As the government deliberates on the necessary measures to mitigate these risks, the situation at Air Force Station Digaru serves as a stark reminder of the delicate balance between industrial development and national security. The Centre for Efficient Governance’s call to action emphasizes the urgent need for policy reforms and proactive measures to ensure the safety and operational readiness of India’s defense infrastructure.

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