India Has Ramped Up Development Of Strategic Infrastructure Along Border With China: EAM Jaishankar

India Has Ramped Up Development Of Strategic Infrastructure Along Border With China: EAM Jaishankar
Image source: The Statesman

On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said that India is ramping up infrastructure development along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) shared with China, for “strategic reasons”.

His observations came regarding Chinese attempts to alter the LAC in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, in December last year, amid tension in eastern Ladakh that has persisted since May 2020.

In a press conference with reporters, the minister announced that the work on the 135-kilometre Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok road began last month.

According to Dr Jaishankar, sixteen key passes were opened much ahead of schedule, to maintain troops along the border with China, resulting in substantial savings on air maintenance costs in cut-off areas. Due to heavy snowfall during the harsh winter months, some mountain passes in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh must be closed. On the government’s priorities, Dr Jaishankar said that 6,806 kms of roads would be built along China’s borders since 2014, almost double the 3,610 kilometres built between 2008 and 2014.

From 2008 to 2014, the total length of bridges along the border with China was 7,270 metres, while from 2014 to 2022 it increased to 22,439 metres.

“Sixteen key passes, which are required to maintain the troops on the China border, have opened in a record time, much ahead of the previous years, thus saving enormous funds in terms of air sustenance of cut-off areas, apart from immense economic and strategic advantages,” said Dr Jaishankar.

Citing an example, he said that traffic on the crucial Zojila axis was extended until January 4 last year, and was reopened on March 19, setting an all-time record for opening the pass in 73 days instead of the normal four to five months.

“We have focused on a rapid development of infrastructure along the northern borders with China for obvious strategic reasons,” said the minister. “We have focused on rapidly developing border connectivity with our friendly neighbours to enhance trade, energy and other people-to-people exchanges,” he added.

The completion of the Sela tunnel on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang route, at a height of 13,700 feet, will give the Indian Army all-weather access to the LAC close to Tawang, according to the External Affairs Minister. It consists of two tunnels, one measuring 1,790 metres and the other 475 metres. The tunnel’s construction should be finished by August 2023. Once finished, it will be the longest two-lane tunnel in the world, rising more than 13,000 feet.

The minister also discussed the use of innovative technologies in the development of infrastructure in high-altitude and difficult border areas. He made special mention of locally made load class 70 modular bridges and the usage of a unique non-frost sensitive sub-base (NFSSB) layer for road construction in Ladakh. Dr Jaishankar also emphasised the necessity of a number of connection initiatives with nearby nations, including Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.


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