India To Strengthen Infrastructure Right Up To LAC Along China

24 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Even as India and China talked peace recently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting at Beijing, India has decided to take no chances and strengthen its infrastructure right up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh to meet requirements of the Defence forces and equip Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), guarding the frontiers with China, with best possible weaponry. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Government of India has approved all major road projects in Ladakh leading right up to the LAC to match strength of People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, which was having similar infrastructure on its side of not only Ladakh but all the places that borders India. Similar projects have also been approved for North Eastern States like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. 'The Centre has asked the Environment Ministry to immediately take up the matter with State Governments for clearance from environment point of view to construct roads right up to the LAC. The Environment Ministry has been asked to ensure that the concerned agencies didn't feel unnecessary delays in the construction work due to clearance,' sources said. Describing visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to Leh as 'quite significant', sources said it was aimed at getting complete view of Chinese activities in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), which have been increasing notwithstanding the Chinese denials posing threat to India. Defence experts have admitted that China was engaged in hectic activities in PoK with a view to gain advantage over India in strategic areas. According to sources, the Centre has given categoric go ahead for infrastructure development right up to the LAC in entire Eastern Ladakh, facing China, in which India was lacking very badly as compared to the neighbouring country and task of the Army and ITBP in patrolling was made very difficult due to virtual no roads close to the LAC. 'The Centre has decided to earmark separate budget for construction of roads right up to the LAC with China,' sources said, adding the Union Government was of the view that construction of railway track (as laid by China right up to Tibet) was very time consuming exercise due to extreme tough and hilly terrain, lack of adequate technology and financial constraints but the road network can easily fulfill immediate needs of the troops,' sources said adding 'it was in view of these reasons that the Centre has decided to build infrastructure in form of roads on priority basis to help the troops. Pointing out that no untoward activity has been reported from the PLA along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh for the past quite some time now and both sides were strictly adhering to the boundary agreements signed between the two countries from time to time, sources said India wants to match strength of the PLA to whatever possible extent on the frontiers to meet with any eventuality. 'China has, over the years, strengthened its infrastructure considerably on the LAC by constructing metallic roads right up to the boundaries and even taking the train to Lhasa in Tibet,' sources said and admitted that India lacked behind the infrastructure capability of China but has now started making very serious efforts to strengthen the infrastructure at par with China. Sources, however, admitted that it could take time as the roads had to pass through extreme hazardous mountains and it wouldn't be an easy task for the construction agencies to meet deadlines set by the Government of India or the minimum possible time in which the security forces want the roads to be in place. 'As far as sophisticated weapons was concerned to match the PLA strength, this request of the Army has already been conceded and the Defence Ministry was going to equip the Army with matching strength of the PLA as early as possible,' sources said. They, however, reiterated that despite building infrastructure and equipping Army with latest weaponry, India only wants to strengthen itself and has no other designs. 'We only want to strengthen ourselves but we have nothing against the neighbouring country with whom we are committed to peace, which has recently been reiterated by two top leaders of their countries during their meetings on May 14 and 15 at Beijing,' sources said.