India needs to match China’s road infrastructure speed along border: Parliamentary panel

India needs to match China’s road infrastructure speed along border: Parliamentary panel

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau23/12/2018 09:38

India has taken up a number of programmes to upgrade infrastructure along its frontier with China, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, following a string of intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army of the neighbouring country.

But experts believe that the work needs to be expedited to match with the speed of infrastructure building on the Chinese side.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) “needs a thorough overhaul” as part of measures to improve roads and infrastructure along the border with China, a parliamentary standing committee has said.

In its report on India-China ties, a parliamentary standing committee on external affairs referred to “inadequate infrastructure including roads” along the border and said there is a “distinct feeling that the BRO, as an organisation with antiquated rules of delegation, needs a thorough overhaul”.

The panel, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, said it was “perturbed… that despite marked progress in recent years, the border road infrastructure on the India-China border is grossly inadequate, as confirmed by its own observations from its visits”.

It stated that in several important sectors, India is “dependent on single access routes, a risky proposition in times of conflict”.

“Worse, many roads are not built to withstand military traffic. Chinese had specifically taken advantage of this in the 1962 war and therefore we ought to draw lessons from the past on this matter.”

The BRO, which draws its officers and personnel from the Army, is responsible for building and maintaining roads in border regions.

The committee has recommended the BRO should work to “achieve full connectivity” and the government should “significantly enhance the level of priority it gives to border roads” in view of last year’s standoff with Chinese troops in Doklam area.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed tri-junction by the Chinese Army.

Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off ended on August 28.

Jayadeva Ranade, a former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer and president of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, said a decision to improve infrastructure along the China border was made in 2005-06 but the progress had been “very slow”.

“The Border Roads Organisation’s work has been extremely slow and there is a need to look at new construction technology and involving the private sector, including foreign firms if necessary, in building this infrastructure,” he said.

 

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