A day after Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated bridges in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, China on Tuesday took offence and targetted India. China said that India has been ramping up infrastructure development “along the border and stepping up military deployment”. It further accused India of causing tension between the two nations.
Heralding in a new era in the connectivity of roads and bridges in sensitive areas close to western, northern and northeastern borders, Singh on October 12 (Monday) dedicated 44 major permanent bridges to the nation. The bridges are located in J&K (10), Ladakh (08), Himachal Pradesh (02), Punjab (04), Uttarakhand (08), Arunachal Pradesh (08) and Sikkim (04).
However, China that refuses to recognise Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh raked up an issue over the bridges that India has built within its territory. China said, “Indian side has been ramping up infrastructure development along the border and stepping up military deployment, that is the root cause of the tension between the two sides.”
Replying to a question China said, “First, I want to make it clear, China doesn’t recognize Ladakh Union Territory, illegally established by India and also Arunachal Pradesh. China stands against the development of infrastructure facilities aimed at military contention along the border area. Based on the two sides’ consensus, neither should take action that might escalate the situation. That could also undermine efforts to ease the situation.”
It added, “For some time, the Indian side has been ramping up infrastructure development along the border and stepping up military deployment, that is the root cause of the tension between the two sides. China asks the Indian side to earnestly implement the consensus between the two sides and refrain from taking actions that might escalate the situation and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border.”
On Monday, Singh also laid the foundation stone for Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. The bridges are of strategic importance and provide connectivity to remote areas. Singh had congratulated DG and all ranks of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for their achievements and said that dedication of 44 bridges in one go in itself was a record.
Rajnath Singh said in the challenging times of COVID-19 and despite the border tensions and disputes caused by Pakistan and China, the country was not only resolutely facing them but also bringing about historical changes in all sectors of development under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lauding the BRO for its role in improving the border infrastructure, Singh had said that these bridges improved connectivity in the far-flung areas of Western, Northern and North East sectors and fulfilled the aspirations of local people. They would also meet the transport and logistics requirements of the armed forces throughout the year, he had added.
He had said that roads and bridges are the lifeline of any nation and play a vital role in the socio-economic development of far-flung regions. Reiterating the Centre’s commitment to boost development activities in border areas, he said that progress of all projects is regularly being monitored and adequate funds are being provided for their timely execution.
He had said that the annual budget of BRO that varied from Rs 3,300 crores to Rs 4,600 crores in years 2008-2016, saw a substantial rise and is pegged at over Rs 11,000 crores in 2020-21. There was no reduction of this budget despite COVID-19. He had also announced that the government has sanctioned high altitude clothing to BRO engineers and workers.
Singh had also laid the foundation stone of the strategically important Nechiphu Tunnel on the road to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. This 450 meters long, bi-lane tunnel would ensure all weather connectivity across Nechiphu Pass besides providing safe and secure passage through accident-prone areas.
Briefing the dignitaries, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, DG BRO, had also said that in addition to expediting road construction, the BRO has laid special emphasis on the construction of bridges by completing 28 major bridges last year while 102 major bridges are being completed this year. 54 of these bridges have already been completed. Over 60 Bailey Bridges have also been constructed by BRO to meet immediate requirements of armed forces and people living in remote areas.
BRO has worked relentlessly even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continuing with works of strategic importance like Construction of Major Bridges & Roads, Atal Tunnel Rohtang, Sela Tunnel etc, and Snow Clearance for the opening of Strategic Mountain Passes.
In spite of unprecedented snowfall breaking a 60 years record, all strategic passes & roads were cleared for traffic about one month before their average yearly opening dates. This brought relief to people of border areas and ensured rapid & early movement of troops & logistics.