Six Times More Funds For Border Infra In Arunachal As India Focuses On Frontier With China Amid Tensions Along The LAC

by Swarajya Staff - Apr 6, 2022 01:54 PM +05:30 IST
Six Times More Funds For Border Infra In Arunachal As India Focuses On Frontier With China Amid Tensions Along The LACDevelopment of border infrastructure in Arunachal. (Pema Khandu/Twitter)
Snapshot
  • The development comes at a time when China has built hundreds of new border villages along the border with India and Bhutan, some within the territory that the latter claim as their own.

As it prepares to deal with heightened tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India has allocated six times more funds for the development of border infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh.

The government has revealed that the allocation for the Border Infrastructure and Management Scheme in Arunachal has been increased from Rs 42.87 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 249.12 in 2021-22.

The government has allocated Rs 602.30 crore in 2021-22 and Rs 355.12 crore in 2020-21 under the Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) aimed at improving infrastructure along India's frontiers with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh in the North East, Minister for State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, said in a written reply to Parliament.

"The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to strengthen the security along international borders, which includes deployment of border guarding forces, effective domination of the borders by patrolling, laying nakas, manning observation posts, vulnerability mapping and holistic review of deployment periodically, establishing new border outposts, deployment of surveillance equipment, strengthening of intelligence network, erection of border fencing among others," he said.

China's Border Consolidation In Tibet

The development comes at a time when China has built hundreds of new border villages along the border with India and Bhutan, some within the territory that the latter claim as their own.

For example, China has built a new settlement in Indian territory under its occupation in the Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier, it had built a village in the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal in an area under its control since the late 1950s.

Under its “well-off border villages” programme, China has developed at least 628 settlements along the frontier with India and Bhutan.

To convince Tibetans to move to these villages, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has invested in infrastructure such as roads, railways and power grid. Around 30.1 billion yuan or nearly $4.6 billion was earmarked in 2017 for the construction of new homes and infrastructure for transport, energy, water and communication and facilities for education and healthcare.

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 has employed nomadic communities living along the Himalayan frontier in Tibet, like herders, through persuasion and coercion, to strengthen its territorial claims in eastern Ladakh and northern Bhutan. Nomads are dispatched with their herds of goats, sheep and yak to settle in these territories — pasturelands across the border which their ancestors may have had access to — by establishing a permanent presence there and forcing Indian and Bhutanese herders to abandon these areas through the tactics prescribed by the CCP.

The CCP is also aggressively pushing tourism to the frontier areas of Tibet, a project made possible by the rapid development of dual-use infrastructure along the border over the last two decades.

By the time China completes the current phase of the border villages programme, it would have moved over 240,000 people to the frontier.

The population of Tibet's border areas has grown by 10.5 per cent, Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party secretary for Tibet, revealed in August at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the "peaceful liberation of Tibet".

As Swarajya reported earlier, China's border consolidation project will not conclude with the completion of this programme.

China's 14th Five Year Plan promises to "speed up the construction of border villages" and build "about 200 new villages" along the frontiers. Large infrastructure projects for Tibet, such as "hydropower development on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river" (the Brahmaputra in India) and highway from "Medog to the Yunnan-Tibet boundary" (just north of Arunachal) underline continued focus on border areas.

India's 'Model Villages' In Arunachal

The Eastern Command of the Indian Army is working with the government of Arunachal Pradesh for the development of model villages on the border, Lieutenant General Manoj Pande, who was serving as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command until recently, said late last year.

Lieutenant General Pande took over as the army's vice chief in February this year and is likely to succeed General Manoj Mukund Naravane as Army Chief when he retires later this month.

"We have come up with a border village initiative, in which we have identified three to four villages, which we have plans to develop as model villages," Lieutenant General Pande told senior journalist and national security analyst Nitin Gokhale in an interview with Bharat Shakti.

The government of Arunachal Pradesh, in its annual budget earlier this year, announced that it will develop three model villages along the border with Tibet as a pilot project, with plans to expand the programme to more border villages in the future. An allocation of Rs 30 crore was also made for this purpose by the state government in its budget.

More Funds For Border Roads Organisation

In the 2021-22 budget, the government has increased the capital outlay for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) by 40 per cent to Rs 3,500 crore.

As its name suggests, the BRO, an agency under the Ministry of Defence, is responsible for the construction and maintenance of border roads and allied infrastructure such as bridges in India's border areas.

Over the last few years, the BRO has significantly increased the pace of construction of roads in border areas. Major reforms, including the transfer of control of the organisation to the Defence Ministry, have helped the BRO improve the pace of construction of border roads.

Such changes have been accompanied by a sharp increase in the BRO’s budget over the last few years. While its annual budget between 2008 and 2016 varied from Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 4,600 crore, it reached Rs 8,050 crore in the financial year 2019-2020.

BRO's performance has improved consistently over the last few years. In 2020, despite Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh and a raging Covid-19 pandemic, the BRO improved its performance over the last year. In the year 2018-19, work done by the BRO saw a jump of over 12 per cent over the previous financial year. In the year 2019-20, the agency had completed over 30 per cent more work than it did in the year 2018-19.

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