The planned 180-km long western axis will be an alternative route to the existing Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) axis and run parallel to it

A new axis connecting Guwahati to the strategically crucial Tawang is scheduled to come up in the next two years as part of massive infrastructural development underway in Arunachal Pradesh. Senior defence officials familiar with the development plan told that the new route will not just boost border connectivity and aid in faster mobilisation of troops, but will strengthen the overall military logistical setup.

The planned western axis, which would be around 180-km long, will run through Kalaktang and connect Shergaon to Rupa and further to Tawang. The Tawang district shares borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and Bhutan to the south-west.

It will be an alternative route to the existing Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) axis and run parallel to it. The proposed route will bypass the Sela pass and go through lower altitudes and lesser populated areas.

Apart from the BCT axis, the Orang-Kalaktang-Shergaon-Rupa-Tawang is the other route connecting Guwahati to Tawang at present. The planned western axis is part of heavy infrastructural development underway in the region at present.

Given the standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC) has been tense, and India has significantly ramped up its border infrastructure, including roads, bridges and habitat.

Talking to reporters about the overall military preparedness in the region, Major General Zubin A Minwalla, General-Officer-Commanding of the 5 Mountain Division, stressed that there has been a tremendous push on infrastructure development by both the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the civilian government in the region.

The 5 Mountain Division is one of the two divisions deployed in the region. It takes care of the sensitive Bum La near the LAC to the west of Bhutan. The senior Army officer also said that aside from strengthening road infrastructure, the focus has been on enhancing the use of high-tech surveillance equipment at the LAC to ensure that a large number of troops do not have to be deployed there during peacetime.

“We are creating more transparency through technology. We are using technology to increase our awareness of the entire situation,” he said.

Surveillance equipment, many of them indigenously made, are artificial intelligence-based and are deployed along the LAC to detect the movement of people and vehicles even deep within the LAC. They are also used in facial recognition of enemy troops and to gather intelligence. Data from all ground-based and air-borne surveillance assets are relayed real-time to a surveillance centre in Rupa manned 24×7 by Army personnel.

Additionally, a set of Israeli Herons are keeping day and night vigil at the LAC. An Army aviation brigade was raised earlier this year at Assam’s Missamari, and its assets include Remotely Piloted Vehicles, ALH Rudra and ALH Dhruv.

As earlier reported, four new Heron TP bought by India are scheduled for delivery by the end of this year and will be deployed at the LAC.

“We are not reacting. We have our own plans and are confident of meeting our own goals and targets in terms of capability-building,” he said.

Other major infrastructure projects underway in the region include around 22 bridges, several tunnels such as the Neciphu and Sela tunnels, multiple airbases and other key roads being constructed in strategically important areas of the state.

Detailing the other infrastructural works in the area, Anant Kumar Singh, a Border Roads Organisation engineer, said the tunnels at Nechiphu and Sela pass will be completed by next year ahead of their scheduled timeline. He added that work on several other key border roads and bridges is currently in progress.

The BRO has undertaken several critical projects in the region and has been crucial in bolstering border infrastructure at the eastern borders at a rapid pace.