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West Kameng
Bomdila
Location of West Kameng in India
Coordinates 27°15′N 92°24′E / 27.25°N 92.40°E / 27.25; 92.40
Country  India
State Arunachal Pradesh
Capital Bomdila
Population
Density
74,595 (2001)
10.05 /km2 (26 /sq mi)
Sex ratio 1.34 (2001) /
Literacy 61.67%%
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area 7,422 km2 (2,866 sq mi)
Decennial growth rate 32.21 (1991-2001)
Road length 1339 km (1998)

West Kameng is a district of Arunachal Pradesh in India. It accounts for 8.86% of the total area of the state. Under Chinese sovereignty claim, West Kameng falls under the jurisdiction of Cuona County of Shannan Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The name is derived from the Kameng river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, that flows through the district.

Contents

People

West Kameng comprises five major tribes: Monpa (which makes up 78% of the district's population and includes Dirang, Bhut, Lish, and Kalaktang Monpa), Miji (Sajolang), Sherdukpen, Aka (Hrusso), and Khowa (Bugun). Minority tribes include Takpa, Lishipa, Chugpa, and Butpa.

Most of the inhabitants are Buddhist, though the Aka, Khowa, and Miji have indigenous religions and those tribe members follow a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Donyi-Polo (a form of Animism).

Geography

West Kameng lies approximately between 91° 30' to 92° 40' East longitudes and 26° 54' to 28° 01' North latitudes. The district shares an international border with Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the west, Tawang District in the northwest, and East Kameng district in the east. The southern border is shared with Sonitpur district and Darrang district of Assam. The Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is located in West Kameng.

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Topography

The topography is mostly mountainous. Much of West Kameng area is covered with the Himalayas. The highest peak in the district and state is Kangte.

Climate

Like East Kameng, the West Kameng district experiences an arid tundra or a cool temperate climate in the north. Snow fall occurs from mid-November to February.

Administration

The district is divided into three subdivisions, Thrizino, Rupa and Bomdila, and twelve administrative circles, including Dirang, Bomdila, Kalaktang, Balemu, Bhalukpong, Jameri, Sinchung, Nafra, Thrizino, Rupa, Thembang, Shergaon. The four development blocks are Dirang, Kalaktang, Nafra-Buragaon, and Thrizino.

Economy

Like most of Arunachal Pradesh, Jhum, or shifting cultivation, is practised among the tribes who live in lower elevations where there is a temperate or subtropical climate. Horiculture is practised as well.

Small industries such as textile and handicraft factories can be found.

History

The area around the Kameng river has traditionally came under the control of the Mon kingdom, Bhutan, Tibet and the Ahom kingdom. Lamaism got a strong foothold among the tribal groups as early as in the 7th century, where the Kachen Lama constructed the Lhagyala Gompa in Morshing.

Whenever loose control was exerted over the area, small, feudal chiefdoms ruled by the Monpa and the Sherdukpen kings dominated control over the area. This can be evidenced in the fact that ruined fortresses like those in Bhalukpong constructed in the 10th to 12th century and the Dirang fort, which was constructed in the 17th century to defend against invasions from neighbouring chiefdoms.

Upon the arrival of the British, the entire area became what was known as the North-East Frontier Agency. It was renamed as the Balipara Frontier tract in 1919, with its headquarters based at Charduar in Assam. In 1946, the district area was carved out of the Balipara, with the name Sela Sub-Agency and its headquarters continued to be Charduar of Assam.

Following the independence of India, the Sela Sub-Agency was renamed as the Kameng Frontier Division. Its headquarters were later transferred to Bomdila in 1954. However, with the invasion of Tibet in 1950, Tibetan refugees started populating the area. Furthermore, with the invasion of the Chinese troops into this area, many historical mounments were either destroyed or defaced.

The Kameng Frontier Division was renamed as the Kameng District. The Political Officer was also redesignated as the Deputy Commissioner of Kameng. However, due to political reasons, the Kameng district was bifurcated between East Kameng and West Kameng on the June 1, 1980. The Tawang district, which initially belonged to part of the district, was separated on the October 6, 1984.

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