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01st April 2024 (12 Topics)

India's Infrastructure Boost along China Border

Context

India is ramping up efforts to enhance infrastructure and connectivity along the LAC with China, extending beyond the Kameng region. While Kameng and Tawang have witnessed development over the past decade, other areas are now catching up to match China's infrastructure standards along the LAC.

1: Dimension- Need for infrastructure development in India's North-East

  • The need for infrastructure development in India's North-East is paramount to enhance connectivity, promote economic growth, and address regional disparities.
  • Improved infrastructure can facilitate smoother movement of goods and people, boost tourism, and unlock the region's vast potential for development.

2: Dimension- The rate of development

  • Highway:Work on the 2,400-km trans-Arunachal highway is expected to be completed this year.
    • The new, almost 1,800-km-long frontier highway, on which work has commenced, will fill a critical void facilitating inter-valley movement. It will start from Bomdila in Arunachal’s west and end in Vijaynagar, near the Indo-Myanmar border.
    • Another 3,000 km of road infrastructure is also under planning and construction in the State. 
  • Operational tracks: A number of operational tracks are being built by the Army to ensure last-mile connectivity in the forward areas, and in addition, a large number of projects have been sanctioned under the Prime Minister Gati Shakti project for infrastructure development.
  • Bridges:A total of 34 new bridges have been constructed between 2020 and 2023.
  • Connectivity across river:Another infrastructure development is the connectivity across the Lohit river, which, for India, starts from Kibithoo and flows to Tezu, and then joins the Brahmaputra in Assam, a distance of almost 350 km, dividing the stretch into east and west banks. 
  • From 2G to 4G: The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was established to provide access to “basic telegraph services” to people in remote and rural areas at aordable and reasonable prices.

3:Dimension- Vibrant village program and its significance

  • The VVP was approved as a Centrally-sponsored scheme in 2023 (in Kibithoo)for the development of 2,967 villages in 46 blocks across 19 districts in the borderStates of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and the Union Territory of
  • The objective is comprehensive development of these villages to improve the quality of life of people, thereby reversing outmigration.
  • The VVP is an effort to counter China’s model villages — called Xiaokang and located very close to the LAC opposite Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh — which have raised apprehensions in the security establishment.

Fact Box

LAC’s Division

  • The Indian Military has divided the Line of Actual Control into 3 sectors – 
    • Western sector across Ladakh and the Chinese-held Aksai Chin
    • Central sector across Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand
    • Eastern sector across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh

The Army’s demarcation of Arunachal Pradesh

  • For administrative purposes, the Army classifies Arunachal as Kameng, derived from the name of the river that flows through the State.
  • Tawang district is part of the Kameng area, while the remaining part of the State is considered separate and was earlier referred to as the Rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP).
  • Of the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC), 1,346 km falls in the eastern sector, comprising Sikkim and Arunachal.
  • While the Tawang and Kameng areas are under the Army’s IV Corps (Tezpur)
  • RALP is under the III Corps (Dimapur).

Kibithoo

  • Kibithoo is one of the easternmost villages in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Inhabited by people of the Meyor tribe, it is located about 7-8 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the contested line that separates India and China. 

UPSC PYQ

  1. “Investment in infrastructure is essential for rapid and inclusive economic growth.” Discuss in the light of India’s experience.  (UPSC 2021)
  2. Border management is a complex task due to difficult terrain and hostile relations with some countries. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for effective border management. (UPSC 2016)
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