The government is set to clear the construction of 44 ‘strategically important roads’ along the India-China border as New Delhi has sharpened its focus on ramping up border infrastructure to counter Beijing, according to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD)’s 2018-19 annual report. The roads in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are expected to be built at cost of around INR 21,040 crore, the report adds.
The detailed project reports (DPRs) for the roads, which are aimed at swifter mobilisation of troops, have been submitted to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed Cabinet Committee on Security for approval.
The construction work is expected to be split between the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the CPWD, two government officials said on condition of anonymity.
BRO and CPWD are currently engaged in the construction of 73 strategic roads measuring 4,643 km along the India-China border. The BRO, which comes under the defence ministry, is constructing 61 of these roads. The CPWD is building the remaining 12.
“All efforts to improve infrastructure along the border are most welcome. These projects will be helpful for both military and civilian purposes,” said Lieutenant General SL Narasimhan (retd), who commanded a corps in the North-East and is currently a National Security Advisory Board member.
Twenty-two foot tracks measuring 750 km are also in the works to support the movement of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel in forward areas of Arunachal Pradesh, the report said. They are likely to cost INR 1,275 crore.
Projects along the India-China border form the bulk of the CPWD’s work. The CPWD is also set to execute projects along the border with Pakistan. It will construct axial and lateral roads measuring around 2,200 km along the India-Pakistan border in Punjab and Rajasthan at a cost of INR 5,450 crore, the report said. “To secure the vast and remote border areas of Rajasthan and Punjab, the DPRs of constructing lateral and axial roads along the Indo-Pak Border are under preparation in CPWD.” The CPWD is also eyeing the construction of permanent integrated buildings at 96 ITBP border outposts. These buildings in high-altitude areas will have thermal insulation and renewable energy technologies. The report said the preparation of DPRs for the INR 2,500-crore project was in full swing.
Developing border infrastructure in the North east has been among the government’s top priorities. Modi had on December 25, 2018 inaugurated the Bogibeel Bridge in Assam to improve road and rail connectivity in the region, especially to Arunachal Pradesh. The bridge facilitates the movement of troops in a strategically sensitive region. The government has focused on building infrastructure in the North-East as part of its Act East policy to develop the region and use it as a link to parts of South and South East Asia.