Several strategic projects along Sino- Indian border have been approved at a cost of Rs. 3482.52 crore by the Central Government, most of them fall in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir where India shared Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in rugged mountains with no road link to most of the posts manned by the army and the ITBP. It is pertinent to note that majority of such projects were pending for the last 13 years. How the previous Governments could afford to ignore addressing such an important matter and trot out its usual conventional approach, is beyond comprehension? It is noteworthy that these projects were initially conceived in 2005 during the UPA1 Government headed by Dr. ManmohanSingh and the “deadline” was set for 2012 for completion of all these projects. Perhaps in the absence of proper planning, there were no funds made available for these projects resulting in no headway worth the name taking place in undertaking of these important projects. The deadline for the completion of these important projects are, now set for the year ending 2020 and it is made abundantly clear that funds availability would be no bar , if required. Setting the deadline by the Government is indicative of the sensitivity of the projects analyzed in the context of our commitments to match the levels of the infrastructural preparedness by the “other” side.
These strategic road projects totaling around 73 are dispersed along five states namely Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh which share 4000 kilometers LAC with China. These road projects,with approved full cost, come close on the heels of tension between the two countries over Doklam issue. Both the countries, however, claim to have “resolved” and deescalated the row. It is learnt that most of these projects were likely to be executed by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) , Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC). These projects include roads connecting Indian side of LAC with towns and cities to help troops reach right up to their posts on the vehicles instead of trekking hostile and rugged mountains for several kilometers which unfortunately is the case presently in some of the areas.
Twenty seven roads involving 804.32 Km are being constructed by Ministry of Home Affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs. 1937 crore. Not taking these strategic projects in the right earnest is tantamount to conveniently forgetting the bitter experience of 1962 and amounted to putting neck on the line which could not be afforded at any cost. The present Government assumed office in 2014 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi accorded priority to completion of these projects. Now with the release of Rs. 3482.52 crore of funds, the Centre is serious about these projects being completed well within the deadline. We have learnt that the Government is hopeful that these projects would meet the deadline conveniently.
Our positions along the LAC with China would be strengthened through these projects in all five states especially the Ladakh region. We cannot be complacent due to having taken place no major incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in Ladakh region for past quite some time and the Government is not inclined, not in the least, to take chances. That is the reason, precisely behind strengthening the requisite infrastructure on the LAC to boost the morale of our armed forces. China, on the other hand, has built up massive infrastructure along their side of LAC by connecting boundaries with India not only by road but in many cases, by railway network. We should not be found just being on the fence as hitherto about how to match the infrastructural build up and proliferation of China but match its development though it would admittedly take a few more years since our preparations have unfortunately started quite late only after 2014 with the new Government taking over.