The Narendra Modi government could soon set up a dedicated agency for the management of infrastructure along India's borders.
Border Infrastructure Management Authority (BIMA) will be responsible for the development of road, rail, water, power and communications infrastructure along the borders, including the frontier with Tibet.
-The agency will work on integrated development of border areas to improve the living conditions for the people in these regions, which in turn will stem out-migration and ensure Indian presence.
Context: A series of military stand-offs with China over the last few years, including the one in eastern Ladakh, has induced urgency in government spending on border infrastructure, which was already increasing since 2015.
-Out-migration from India's border areas has led to the thinning of Indian presence essential to bolster territorial claims on the ground.
-Communities in the Himalayan belt have played a key part in upholding Indian sovereignty in far-flung, vulnerable areas.
-China has employed nomadic communities living along the Himalayan frontier in Tibet to strengthen its territorial claims not just in eastern Ladakh but also northern Bhutan.
China's border consolidation project has raised concerns in India.
-China is building new villages along the frontier in Tibet to assert its claims along the Line of Actual Control. It has already developed 628 villages, some in territory claimed by India and Bhutan.
-Apart from spending billions on infrastructure development, China has used economic incentives, including annual subsidies, to get reluctant Tibetans to move to border villages.
-China's efforts seem to be working — the population of border areas has grown by 10.5 per cent, Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party secretary for Tibet, revealed last year.
The Vibrant Villages Programme announced by the government in the 2022-23 budget is a response to China's border consolidation project.
-The existing border development schemes are being converged under the Vibrant Villages Programme, and their outcomes will be defined to allow better monitoring.
-In the budget, the government also increased the capital outlay for the Border Roads Organisation by 40 per cent.
-There has been a six-fold increase in allocation for Arunachal Pradesh's Border Area Development Programme.
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