The Ministry of Home Affairs informed a parliamentary panel that along with roads, 32 helipads were also being constructed and upgraded along the China border.

Post-Galwan incident, the Government of India sanctioned 32 roads along the China border, of which work has started on eight roads, a report tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday said.

The report on Demands for Grants (2022-23) of the MHA by the parliamentary standing committee headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Ministry had demanded ₹3637.92 crore for border infrastructure in the coming fiscal even though it was able to spend only 50% of the allocated budget till December 2021.

“The committee is surprised to note that only 50% amount of the RE [revised estimate] 2021-22 [₹1481.10 crore] has been expended up to December 31, 2021. The Ministry has sought an amount of ₹3637.92 crore from the Ministry of Finance for the border infrastructure scheme in BE [Budget Estimate] 2022-23 [projected]. The Committee fails to understand the reasons for seeking such high allocation in spite of the under-utilisation of the funds allocated at RE 2021-22,” the report said.

The committee recommended that realistic assessment should be made for the scheme and appropriate allocation sought.

‘Various Projects Undertaken’

The Ministry informed the panel that to improve the existing infrastructure and to enhance the operational capabilities of security forces, the government had undertaken various projects and schemes in the past few years along the China border.

It stated that under the Indo-China Border Roads Phase-I (ICBR-I), the construction of 25 roads, measuring 751.58 km, at an estimated cost of ₹3482.52 crore was taken up. Out of this, 18 roads measuring 475.29 km were in operational use while the work on the remaining seven roads was on.

The first phase was initiated in 2005 when it was decided that the MHA would construct 27 priority roads totalling 608 km along China border.

The second phase (ICBR-II) was approved on September 21, 2020, months after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in eastern Ladakh.

Stand-Off At Multiple Locations

India and China are in a stand-off at multiple locations along the undemarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The two countries have held 15 round of talks to resolve the border stand-off as China continues to block Indian patrols.

The government also approved critical infrastructure in border areas of Arunachal Pradesh in December 2020.

“Government of India on 23.12.2020 has approved construction of 18 foot tracks (including requisite number of foot suspension bridges, log bridges and staging camps) measuring 598.27 KMs at an estimated cost of ₹1162.19crores. Land acquisition and other statutory clearance under progress,” the report stated.

The panel was also informed that the Ministry was working on the modalities of the Vibrant Village programme as announced in Union Budget 2022-23. The scheme for villages along the China border in five States “would also help in gathering intelligence from the people in border villages,” the report said.

“One of the stated objective is to is to motivate people to continue to stay there because otherwise a large number of people will move out from these villages,” it said.

The representative of the MHA in the meeting held on February 14, informed the Committee that in the Vibrant Border Scheme, infrastructure will be developed in a focused manner in border villages, like in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas, by building roads, mobile towers, banks, etc.