October 1, 2014

Decade-old LAC road projects get fast-tracked after Ladakh stand-off

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is pushing for the speedy construction of roads along the border with China that have been pending for nearly a decade in the wake of the recent incursions by Chinese troops in the Ladakh region.
With few roads in high-altitude areas, patrolling is difficult and the border has become vulnerable to Chinese incursions over the past few years. 
The home ministry’s project for erecting 27 roads for the movement of troops from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the frontier with China, has been a non-starter as only three roads have been built so far. 
The roads are to be constructed along the border in Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. 
The plan envisages the construction of 804 km of roads and the project will cost an estimated Rs 1,937 crore. 
“The Chinese forces have roads right up to their border outposts and our forces have to trek for days in some areas,” said a home ministry official. 
The project for constructing these roads was stuck because the Environment Ministry had not given green clearances, but now the NDA government wants to expedite the work and the required clearances have been obtained, officials said.
The project began in 2004 but not much work has been done so far. The Environment Ministry was reluctant to give environment clearances and the home ministry was unable to engage contractors. 
“As of now, even the first phase of construction is not over. The project was divided into three to four phases. We are hoping after the recent stand-offs and the government claiming to be bold against China, the road construction will speed up,” said an officer in the security establishment. 
“Since there are no roads, our forces have to walk to border outposts. All the patrolling has to be done on foot, making the border vulnerable to incursions,” the officer added. 
Sources said there is also a need for dedicated air support for the ITBP to facilitate quicker movement of troops and for transporting rations and other materials. 
The Home Ministry wants the Finance Ministry to also clear a proposal for building 54 new border outposts along the border. 
An in-principle approval was given to the plan by the previous UPA government just before the elections in April, but no sanctions have been made so far.

Border stand-off ends as troops withdraw 

It's official. India and China have ended their fortnight-long stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed that both Beijing and New Delhi had withdrawn their troops completely and the forces simultaneously returned to the positions held by them on September 1. 
The ministry said both sides had “reached a consensus to properly resolve the recent stand-off between the frontier defence troops at the border”. 
A statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs said a flag meeting of Indian and Chinese border commanders held at Spanggur Gap on Tuesday confirmed that the standoff at Chumar and Demchok had been “successfully terminated”. 
The Chinese government in Beijing said both sides would “continue to communicate” on the boundary issues by putting proper system in place. 
On Tuesday, a commentary in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper said “unsolved territorial disputes” would “not affect the development of Sino- Indian relations”. 
Commenting on PM Narendra Modi’s ongoing visit to the US, the article also said China had no reason to be concerned about India-US relations. 

- dailymail

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