New Delhi: With increasing tension along the Sino-Indian border and clashes between the armies of the two nations, India is all set to ramp up its infrastructure along the international border and complete work on as many as 42 strategic India-China Border Roads (ICBRs) before 2022, officials have said.
The Centre had identified 73 “strategic roads” along the China border, 28 of which were made operational, 33 are still under construction while the work on remaining are in the initial stages, they added.
Confirming this, BJP councillor from Tangtse constituency in eastern Ladakh Tashi Namgyal said that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has engaged a large number of porters and labourers from several border villages for construction of roads in Darbuk, Shyok and Daulat Beg Oldie areas along the LAC.
According to official sources, while most road projects were pending in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, construction has begun in full swing in Ladakh. “Some of these projects were to be completed by 2018 but were delayed mainly due to strategic security consideration, environment clearances, limited working season, difficulties in availability of construction materials, delay in land acquisition and natural calamities,” said a senior government official.
“Of these 73 roads, 61 roads of 3,410 km length were entrusted to BRO while the remaining was to be completed by CPWD and ITBP. The development of these roads would enhance accessibility to border areas where the border infrastructure and forward connectivity are lacking,” a second official explained. Besides roads, the strategic infrastructure includes mobile towers, strategic railway lines and border outposts (BOPs).
The BJP councillor added that the Chinese incursions and build-up in Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and now in DBO have forced the BRO to take rapid measures to construct or realign crucial roads leading to these strategic areas along the LAC and store essentials and weaponry.
“From every family, the BRO has hired at least two porters including women, for these emergency development projects. This should have happened much earlier,” said Namgyal, who had visited Darbuk area early this week. The BRO has engaged around 300 locals, including women, in road construction from Darbuk to Shyok in the past two weeks. The road, which passes through a mountain, is now being realigned to a lesser height.
“These roads were so narrow that, earlier this month, some of the vehicles carrying artillery got stuck and damaged the banking of these roads completely. They are now being realigned,” said Namgyal. Here the porters are being paid Rs 17,500 per month without meals.
Around 150 locals from Tangste, all men, have been taken to the DBO sector where they are engaged in road construction. They are paid around Rs 20,000 per month, including meals. “The army has also completed documentation of around 300 locals for porter service and they might be engaged soon,” said Namgyal.
“The clash on the border has brought renewed focus on our area, which lacks even basic electricity facilities and communication is shut for several weeks now,” complained Namgyal.
“The government is transporting cement and iron in huge quantities towards the border. It seems like an emergency in the area as far as construction is concerned,” said Namgyal.