NEW DELHI: China making inroads into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has left the country’s military strategists worried, but India’s own plans to improve border infrastructure to counter the dragon are moving at snail’s pace. The ambitious border road project — under which 3765 kilometres were to be added by next year — will reach nowhere near its target.
A review has found that not even half of 116 planned roads will be ready by 2012. As of now only 98 kilometres has been completed and work is going on 52 roads covering 2125 km. By 2012, border road engineers hope to complete only 45 of these projects and the rest will be wrapped up only after 2015.
Main thrust of the project is on the 73 roads on Indo-China border stretching from Jammu and Kashmir to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Problems in getting environmental clearance have proved to be one of the major stumbling blocks and there is not enough air logistic support to lift heavy machinery to high altitude border areas.
Another major problem was lack of expertise in constructing tunnels. Since most of the roads are in mountainous terrains, they have to pass through tunnels at several places. Special training is being given to train engineers to build tunnels even as private contractors were being hired like in the case of Rohtang.
The MoD has acknowledged that China had stolen the march over India and infrastructure in Tibet Autononous Region was far superior than what is available on this side of the border. Apart from an extensive road network, China has developed five airfields in TAR at Gongar, Linchi, Pangta, Gar Gunsa and Hoping.
After completing the work along the Line of Actual Control, China has taken up major infrastructure projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. A top military general has already raised concern about this development and the Ministry of External Affairs has also now woken up to threatening scenario. There is no co-ordination between the Ministry of Defence and MEA on the sensitive issue. The MEA was not even aware of senior Army commander’s assessment and sought report from MoD only after the Chinese involvement in PoK was highlighted in the media.