India has made marked progress in LAC infra development: Army chief
From creating 6,000 km of border roads to improving all-weather connectivity in regions of Ladakh and Kameng, the Army has expanded infrastructure on this side of the Line of Actual Control with China, says General Manoj Pande
While there are reports of infrastructure build-up on the Chinese side, what does not come to the fore is what infrastructure has been developed on our side, Army chief General Manoj Pande said on Thursday, stating that there has been “marked improvement” and there are plans for all-weather connectivity and alternative connectivity.
Terming the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China “stable but unpredictable”, he said that in terms of numbers, there has been a slight increase in the number of Chinese troops opposite the Army’s Eastern Command, which he said came for training and have remained. He said five of the seven flashpoints have been resolved with the ongoing talks at various levels.
Elaborating on infrastructure development, Gen. Pande said in the past five years, the Border Roads Organisation has constructed close to 6,000 km of roads; of this, 2,100 km has been along the northern borders. As for the upgrade of bridges, needed to carry guns and tanks, as much as 7,450 metres of them were constructed, he stated.
“The frontier road, which runs a total of 1,800 km, will connect various valleys in Arunachal Pradesh. The plan has been reenergised and funding has been assigned. Some work on it is already under way,” General Pande said.
There is the aspect of all-weather connectivity in both Ladakh and Kameng in Arunachal, he further stated. In Ladakh, there is the Zojila tunnel and the Z-Morh tunnel, which will link the valley to Ladakh and will be operationalised by the end of the year.
For connectivity to Leh from the other side, Atal tunnel is well known. There is also the Shinku la tunnel along the Nemu-Padam-Daricha road, which again is in the final stages of approval, Gen. Pande noted. “Once this happens, there will be all-weather connectivity from both sides to Ladakh.”
Speaking about Arunachal, he said there is also better all-weather connectivity to Tawang or Kameng sector. The Sela tunnel is likely to get operational by the middle of the year and one bridge further South at Nechiphu near Bomdila.
“In the context of habitats, especially Eastern Ladakh, we have close to 55,000 troops for whom habitat has been completed,” he shared. There has also been covered heated accommodation for 400-odd guns and 500 A-vehicles, he added.
Looking for alternatives
The Army has carried out an assessment on the reliance on some of the Soviet and Russian-origin equipment in its inventory in the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and is trying to identify alternative sources for spares and ammunition that has been impacted, Gen. Pande said.
About steps taken to address this issue, he said, “We got a waiver and sanction to procure, even if it is ex-imports, for the next two or three years. We have 40 such cases, including spares and ammunition, largely pertaining to air defence and tank fleet. We are looking at how the sustenance requirement is met.”