New Delhi: Even though some already speed up work on border roads in east and Northern India are continuing, the government's latest announcement to increase infrastructure, reverse migration and add additional security troops on borders with China is much-awaited welcome news.
The December 2022 clashes between Indian and Chinese troops at the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh probably triggered a quick decision to block any future attempts of Chinese forces to venture into Indian territory.
The cabinet nodded that 2,966 border villages will have "Vibrant Village Programmes" in four bordering States of India with China, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and the Union Territory of Ladakh.
In addition, seven additional paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) battalions comprising 9,400 personnel will be raised to patrol the rugged mountainous terrain.
Indo Tibetan Border Force (ITBP), which primarily protects India's borders with China in rugged mountainous ridges, has a strength of 88,430 personnel that are dotted on the India-China borders of around 3,500 km ranging from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
The new seven additional ITBP battalions - around 10,000 personnel - will be deployed at 47 new border outposts along LAC with China in Arunachal Pradesh.
On the Indian side, there were mostly foot tracks in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh hilly areas, sporadic populations who had abundant their dwellings for want of living amenities, security and jobs have now new hopes to resettle.
It was difficult for the brave Indian soldiers to wheel in the heavy artillery and logistics to the strategic position, and troops always remained dependent on headloads and mules for carrying the load.
Even though India has upgraded several border roads, including a strategic road that connects an airfield at Dalut Beg Oldie in the northern tip of the western sector with the villages of Shyok and Darbuk toward the south in Ladakh, much more needs to be done.
The new road facilitates support for the defence and civilian movement, reducing travel time to reach the Line of Actual Control and increasing civilian business and living with better facilities.
In the past decade, India has worked hard to strengthen its position on the border and its presence along the Line of Actual Control or LAC to match the Chinese strengths on the fence. Work on several feeder roads under challenging terrains continues.
India got more alerted after the border row that led to skirmishes with the Chinese troops in Galwan in 2020 that claimed the lives of 20 Indian Army personnel and several Chinese soldiers.
Political observers feel that sporadic Chinese incursion in the Indian territories is a strategic move to halt Indian development. They want to avoid seeing India have motorable roads to the border.
Meanwhile, China has many advanced infrastructures, roads and settlement colonies in the border villages facing the Indian side. The satellite images have repeatedly shown how the Chinese are massively indulged in construction activities in the border areas. It has often been reported that China is involved in construction activities inside Indian territory.
In addition to the infrastructure development for the troops on the disputed border with India, China has also created resettlement villages that are permanent constructions with modern amenities, especially border areas facing Arunachal Pradesh.
China adopted a controversial "Land Border law", which concerns all the neighbouring countries. The so-called law defends China's territorial sovereignty and land border security while encouraging the proactive preconceived resolution of disputes with its neighbours which no neighbouring country is ready to accept.
So, the news of the Indian government approving Rs 4,800 crore for the 'Vibrant Villages Programme', envisaging the all-round development of civilian settlements adjoining the northern land border to reverse out-migration or to bring more civilians to the border villages, is music to the people living in the border areas and a dream come true for locals.
Two thousand nine hundred sixty-six border villages spread over 19 districts and 46 border blocks of four states and union territory will benefit people living in remote and border areas.
Home minister Amit Shah tweeted, "For the first time, any government is working with such determination for the development of border areas and uplifting the standard of living of the people there. The programme will rejuvenate border villages, stopping migration and strengthening border security."
सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रों के विकास और वहाँ के लोगों के जीवनस्तर को ऊपर उठाने के लिए पहली बार कोई सरकार इतने संकल्पित भाव से कार्य कर रही है।— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 15, 2023
कैबिनेट द्वारा स्वीकृत ‘वाइब्रेंट विलेज प्रोग्राम’ से 663 सीमावर्ती गाँवों का कायाकल्प होगा जिससे पलायन रुकेगा और सीमा सुरक्षा अधिक मजबूत होगी। https://t.co/Z5iBWBiaq0
Under the vibrant village initiative under the border area development programme, the government is now committed to the growth that will be pushed in the border villages by building live-in facilities and reachable access to the villages.
The objective is to put the people in these villages, which is bound to bolster India's territorial claims in future border negotiations.
This move is going to:
- Enhance border security as access to development and civic amenities is expected to instil belonging among the residents.
- Increase more civilian population in the borders where new jobs will be created with the development projects for the locals.
- Boost information flow on the movements and plans of the Chinese forces.
- Strengthen India's territorial claims during border talks and help resist any attempts at encroachment from the neighbouring side.