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India catches up with China, builds over 3,000 km of roads along border in 20 years

The roads are meant to counter Chinese infrastructure expansion along the border, and were first approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Defence is set to complete the first phase of the project to build a network of roads along the China border, for brisk movement of troops and weapons, 20 years after it was first envisaged, ThePrint has learnt.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had in 1999 approved the construction of these roads by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the Ministry of Defence. The project was to be completed between 2003 and 2006 but the deadline was then extended to 2012 — it too was missed.

According to a source in the ministry, the government had in the first phase planned to construct 61 roads along the India-China border totalling 3,346 km. Of these, 36 roads (1,260 km) have been constructed, while links have been established in 20 others (2,035 km) which are being tested. Work on the remaining five roads has begun and will be completed soon.

“This is part of defence preparedness. India is getting there to China,” the source said. “The focus of the government is increased connectivity, smooth patrolling on these roads, which will lead to securing the areas better,” the source added.

“Now, for phase 1, only 51 km is left to be completed,” the source added. “It is a big achievement considering that the project had been pending for years.”

Some of the finished roads include the stretch connecting Sasoma and Saseria in the Ladakh sector, the Ghatibagarh-Lipulekh road in the Mansarovar sector, Gunji-Kutti-Jollingkong road in the Uttarakhand sector, Dokala in the Sikkim sector, the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road in the Tawang sector and the Damping-Yangtze in the Arunachal sector.

Infographic by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

Also read: Indian Army unwilling to demilitarise Siachen Glacier as ‘Pakistan cannot be trusted’

Project cost over Rs 3,000 crore

According to a source in Ministry of Home Affairs, the government has spent Rs 3,728 crore on the project. This includes Rs 781 crore spent in 2016-17, Rs 745 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 890 crore in 2018-19. The proposed cost for the current fiscal is Rs 1,312 crore.

“The estimated cost to complete the first phase was Rs 4,700 crore, which has been done well within the budget,” the source said. “Once phase 1 is completed, details of the next phase will be discussed with all the stakeholders.”

The government is yet to work out how many phases and how many roads need to be built.

A counter to China

The roads are meant to act as a counter to Chinese infrastructure in its border areas.

It was after China began constructing roads and tracks along India’s northern and eastern frontiers in 1997 that New Delhi felt a need to respond.

“India then constituted a China Study Group (CSG) to study the requirement of road communication along the China border for fast and smooth movement of troops,” the defence ministry source said.

And the end of the study, the CSG identified 73 important locations along the China border for Indo-China Border Roads (ICBRs) to be built.

Of the 36 roads that have been constructed, the CSG has completed seven roads (268 km), the defence ministry has built 20 roads (818 km) and the home ministry has worked on nine roads (174 km).

Among the 20 roads that are soon to be completed, five roads were worked on by CSG (762 km), 12 roads (1,105 Km) by the defence ministry and three roads (168 km) by the home ministry.

Also read: After Doklam, China boosts civil & military capability at Tibet’s Gonggar airport 


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  1. Compare the quality of these roads, to the Chinese-built ones across the border…chances are, the ones constructed across the border are way superior

  2. Wondering how much of those were built in last 5 years? 20 years is a very long time frame to gauge the failure of previous govts and also diluted the hard work of last 5 years which actually saw the real progress.

  3. Great for country and connectivity to the northern frontier especially given the security, stability,peace and prosperity to these regions maintaining better surveillance,availability and resources for army personnel and common Indians.

  4. Namaskar. A very humble, but urgent request, to the China Study Group, as well as to Smt. Ananya Bhardwaj, to seriously consider the issue of food supplies, the subject of provisioning logistics of the Northern Armed forces, sensu lato, from Arunachal Pradesh to Siachen, including the highest altitudes year round.

    This included the ancillary support system, the goodwill of the local village communities, especially in sensitive areas, such as near the Kargil-Dras area or Arunachal Pradesh. Not enough attention is paid to these crucial links in the chain. A chain is ONLY as strong as each of its links. For example, the tiny herding community that claims to have FIRST SIGHTED the Pakistani intrusion into Indian territory, remains deeply disaffected. It is but 4-5 households, perched on a cliff, with numerous citations to show but NO MATERIAL HELP WHATSOEVER EVEN 20 YEARS after the Kargil war. Very foolish, don’t you suppose, when a very little could have won a huge amount of goodwill?

    Ditto, in Arunachal, the defence roads org. blasted a shrine of Holy Guru Rinpoche ot make way for a road. Would they have blasted a masjid with impunity? Please try to understand what sacrilege has happened. Go back, accept fault, restore a chapel + build a gonkhang where 24 hr path is held. Get some specialists in each sect/subsect of Nyingmapa/Sarmapa Vajrayana as part of the Army, and conversant with EACH major LOCALITY, native to the area.

    Back to High Altitude agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. DRDO had a woeful subsection, manned decades past by Elie Tsering and one Brahm Prakash, and utterly nonsensical. That nonsense today is continued under CAZRI, and every other govt. organization, filled with incompetents. Please, we cannot afford to contest with China, that has NO ROOM FOR CLOWNS where its power is concerned, where we are enamoured of the Krishna Menon-Nehruvian circus of fools to this day.

    You have not a single expert familiar with intensive fruit/veg. cultivation without cover in USDA HARDINESS ZONES 2, & 3 [ perhaps even 4?, -45 to -30 C winter lows, and short, cold summers of <90 growing days. China does.

    You airlift fresh food from the plains to Thoiche, for forward bases. Have you examined the diets at Siachen? At forwards bases? Please get real; also, serious. The Chinese ARE. We remain Krishna Menon's ulloos. I can prove this.

    NO logistics experts, no understanding of principles of thermodynamics throughout the provisioning of the Northern Forces in an integrated manner, considering the TOTAL TEETH: TAIL issue.

    What about shelter & drainage at High Altitudes? Again, LACUNAE instead of COMPETENCE. Please talk to those who wish to help without taking anything in return.

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