New Delhi: The border population of the Himalayan frontiers of the country residing in 'vibrant villages' along the India-China border on Thursday celebrated 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force personnel.

As per the border guarding force, thousands of border women and girls tied Rakhis to the personnel of the ITBP-- which is mandated to guard the entire 3,488 kms of India-China borders.

From Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, covering hundreds of border villages in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim borders ranging in heights from 4,000 to 16,000 feet, and many hinterlands, the local population celebrated the festival of Rakhi with the ITBP Himveers-- a name that has been given by the people to the border guarding force personnel who serve in difficult terrain and weather conditions to safeguard the borders over the years.

After the launch of the Vibrant Village Program (VVP) this year, this Raksha Bandhan celebration has become even more important. With 662 border villages covered under the program’s first phase, the ITBP has been playing an important role in the development of these villages.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched the program in Arunachal Pradesh's Kibithu on April 10 this year.

The ITBP, since its inception in 1962, is known as the ‘Sentinels of the Himalayas’ by putting all-out efforts of development, rescue and relief operations, civic action and border area development programmes apart from other important awareness campaigns in the mountainous border regions of the nation.

With more than 90,000 strong personnel in its ranks, the elite mountain guarding force ITBP has been pivotal in the development of the bordering areas of the Himalayas in the past.

Eying for speedy development of the border areas, 2,967 villages in 46 blocks of 19 districts abutting the northern border in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and the UT of Ladakh have been identified for comprehensive development under the VVP.

The government of India has approved the VVP with central components of Rs 4,800 crore, including Rs 2,500 crore, exclusively for road connectivity for the financial years 2022–23 to 2025–26. In the first phase, 662 villages have been identified for priority coverage, which includes 455 villages in Arunachal Pradesh.

It is perceived that the VVP will help in improving the quality of life of people living in identified border villages and encourage people to stay in their native locations, thereby reversing the outmigration from these villages and adding to the security of the border.

The district administration, with the help of appropriate mechanisms at the block and panchayat levels, will prepare action plans for identified villages to ensure 100 per cent saturation of central and state schemes.

The focus areas of interventions identified for the development of villages include road connectivity, drinking water, electricity, solar and wind energy, mobile and internet connectivity, tourist centres, multi-purpose centres, healthcare infrastructure, and wellness centres.