The Centre has informed a parliamentary panel that a “standalone project” to build a critical road along the border with China in Ladakh is going on.
The panel was also informed that all along the China border, the construction of 57 roads, construction and refurbishing of 32 helipads, development of 47 outposts and twelve staging camps for ITBP along with construction of 18 foot tracks in Arunachal Pradesh is currently under progress.
The details were mentioned in a department related standing committee report on demands for grants for the fiscal year 2021-22 that was presented in Rajya Sabha on Monday. The committee is headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma.
India and China are engaged in a face-off in various pockets in Eastern Ladakh since April last year after China stopped Indian patrols in Finger area of Pangong Tso. While Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged from the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake) in February, the buildup continues at Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs .
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla informed the panel that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)has focused on “border infrastructure” and in fiscal 2020-21, government has sanctioned the Phase II of the Indo-China Border Road (ICBR-II) programme. “This programme covers many roads, foot tracks and border out posts (BoPs),” the report said.
The panel held sittings on February 16, 17 and 22 where officials apprised that there are 11 Demands for Grants administered by the MHA.
The report said till November 2020, the total length of road constructed along the China border stood at 538.50 kilometres. The first phase of ICBR was initiated in 2005 when it was decided that MHA would construct 27 priority roads totalling 608 km. along China. According to the panel’s report, the construction of 25 priority roads of the first phase is still going on.
The roads and other projects are constructed from “border infrastructure and management” fund that is meant for maintenance of border infrastructures along Bangladesh, Pakistan and China borders. In 2019-20 the money spent on border projects was ₹2156.09 crore.
The creation of 47 border outposts for the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force, mentioned in the panel’s report, was sanctioned in 2014.