Deadline for India-China border roads pushed to 2022

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 01, 2017

A file picture of the Nathu La border crossing in Sikkim. A total of 73 Indo-China Border Roads have been approved for construction, of which 27 roads have been completed - Photo: DIPTENDU DUTTA

Delay in clearances, difficult terrain cited as reasons

At a time when India and China have locked horns over the tri-junction area in the Doklam region of Bhutan for over a month, the government has said that the crucial Indo-China Border Roads are not going to be completed before 2022 much to the agony of the armed forces.

Apparently, the Army has asked the Ministry of Defence for faster implementation of the Indo-China Border Roads stating that it is “imperative” to have the roads “at the earliest” for movement of troops and steady supplies of food and ammunition.

The deadline to complete these roads has now been set for 2022, which the Army says is alarming, sources told BusinessLine.

A total of 73 Indo-China Border Roads along northern borders have been approved for construction. Out of this, 27 roads have been completed while the remaining will be completed by December 2022. While the Defence Ministry is building 46 roads and the remaining 27 are being constructed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

These were supposed to be completed by 2012.

Reasons for delay

“The delay in execution of road projects is due to delay in forest, wildlife, environment clearance, hard rock stretches, limited working season, delay in land acquisitions, difficulties in availability of construction material and damage due to natural disasters such as flash flood,” Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said recently.

Last month Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had cited the reasons for delay as limited working season combined with logistic issues due to very high altitude and mountainous, rugged and difficult terrain, natural calamities, delay in forest and wildlife clearances and land acquisition among others.

The government has said it will also be constructing four strategic railway lines along the 4,056-km long border that India shares with China.

“While China has been seriously concentrating on developing the infrastructure around the border areas and moving at a blistering pace in constructing roads and bridges, India is moving at a snail’s pace. The Army has been asking the government to build infrastructure within 50 km of the Line of Actual Control but it has taken ages to complete this task,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

The roads will have to cover all sectors of the LAC lies across Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. While all the successive governments have realised the importance of developing infrastructure along the border areas, bureaucratic hurdles and slow environment clearances have hampered the project, sources added.

Another factor, sources said, that has hampered progress is that of manpower shortage in Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which entrusted with the task of constructing 61 out of the 73 roads and total cost is expected to be ₹4,536 crore.

The CAG, in its report released in March, had also pointed out to numerous instances of defective construction of the roads that have been completed.

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Published on August 01, 2017
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