This came after defence minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting on Tuesday to review the progress in construction of various border infrastructure projects. “All pending projects should be expedited on top priority,” Singh said, stressing the need for adopting the “whole of nation” approach in matters of national security.
The committee of secretaries from the ministries of defence, road, transport & highways, telecommunications, environment and power, among others, will “meet at frequent intervals” to fast-track the projects, an official said.
Among the ministers who attended the meeting were Nitin Gadkari (road, transport & highways), Ashwini Vaishnaw (railways and communication), R K Singh (power) and Bhupender Yadav (environment).
Apart from the military brass, national security advisor Ajit Doval, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and Ladakh Lieutenant Governor Brig (Dr) B D Mishra (retd) were also present.
India has to some extent reduced the huge “infrastructure differential” with China along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, over the last three years, as reported by TOI earlier.
But a lot still remains to be done, especially in terms of all-weather connectivity for faster troop deployments through roads and tunnels in border areas. “Land and forest clearances still remain a major problem…the committee of secretaries will look into all such matters,” an official said.
With Indian and Chinese troops remaining forward deployed for the third consecutive winter, several more infrastructure projects are on the anvil. The cabinet committee on security, for instance, last month approved the Rs 1,681 crore construction of the strategically-crucial 4.1-km tunnel under the forbidding Shinkun La on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
Nine new tunnels are under construction at present, which includes the 2.5-km Sela tunnel to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh being built for Rs 687 crore at an altitude of over 13,000-feet, while 11 more tunnels are planned, as reported by TOI earlier.