Indian Army Objects Development Along Border with China
The Indian Army is opposing development projects in the country's northeast, warning that border roads could facilitate possible infiltration.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – India's northeastern region bordering China has been a breeding ground for resentment towards Central India owing to the slow pace of development in comparison to the rest of the country. The region lacks road connectivity and other basic infrastructure like airports, railway and continuous supply of electricity, among others.
In an attempt to bridge this gap, the central government had announced a 1,800 kilometer frontier highway project with an estimated cost of USD 6.5 million in 2014 proposed to be built between Tawang and Vijaynagar in the restive state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The project was to be monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, two years down the line, the plan remains in cold storage, triggering strong resentment by locals. According to official sources, the main reason behind the delay in starting the project is the Indian Army's skepticism.
The Directorate General of Military Organization (DGMO) has warned that border roads could become a liability in the event of a war with China. According to sources, the DGMO has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs saying "the proposal entails construction of roads and tunnels along a fresh alignment in close proximity 15-40 Kilometer of Line of Actual Control, which is not desirable."
This has prompted a series of communication between the elected representatives of Arunachal Pradesh and the federal administration. Pasang Dorjee Sona, Member of Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh, says, "The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed the frontier highway. However, now, I believe the DGMO is not much agreeing to a lot of locations. DGMO is saying that you cannot build roads on that side. When such proposals are coming, they (locals) are more than happy to support because local people staying there have the equal right to access basic facilities. It's been ages, they are still striving for basic necessities. If they don't see much happening, obviously the mood of the people will not be very good."
Physical work on the project was proposed to be initiated by 2018. But the rigid stance of the Army is holding back any progress in documentation and formalities. The Indian Army continues to believe that underdevelopment of border areas would minimize the damage and prevent easy access to the Chinese Army in Indian territory.
Disagreeing with the objection raised by the Army, Dorjee Sona says, "We can't leave the border area undeveloped because it will create a lot of problems. Because people need to be happy and to make people happy we need to give them basic facilities and infrastructure."
India recently operationalized an upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) for the armed forces in Mechuka of Arunachal Pradesh last month but local administration is not happy with the idea that they will not be allowed to use the facility.
Dorjee Sona says, "Armed forces do not keep any kind of transparency with the local administration, the state government and the local representatives because they are doing everything hush-hush in their own way. A facility has been built in our land, but we are barred from using that facility. Those are the resentments to quote a few; there are a lot of other problems otherwise."
Dorjee says, "How government sees the border area from the defense-strategic way, we don't know. But, as people from the border area, we feel we also have equal rights to have access to basic facilities. Many representatives from the state met Minister of State for Home Affairs (Kiren Rijuju) and discussed the issues. Even he had the same opinion that the problems are there because the DGMO has some reservations regarding some of the strategic points (of the proposed highway)."
India and China fought a month long war in 1962. The war stopped after a ceasefire was declared. But, the border dispute continues to linger. China has developed high level infrastructure in border areas in Tibet to facilitate operations of its armed forces, but India has adopted the opposite tactic of leaving the area devoid of basic infrastructure as a deterrent to possible infiltration for Chinese forces.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|