NEW DELHI: In a strategic connectivity push along the Indo-China border, the Union Home Ministry is finalising a proposal for construction of 100 ITBP Priority Roads in the next 10 year to connect over a 100 passes along the Himalayas.
The Detailed Project Report of the Phase II and Phase III of the ITBP priority roads are being finalised. Each phase will entail construction of about 50 metalled roads along the border in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, a senior Home Ministry official said adding the cost of construction of the roads under both the phases could be nearly 1 lakh crore.
The first phase of the priority roads with an outlay of Rs 2,000 crore was initiated in the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-2012) and comprised construction of 27 roads out of which construction of two roads was taken over for construction by the Army and the remaining are being built by the ITBP, including eight stretches in Arunachal Pradesh and three in Sikkim. Ten of the 25 roads have been fully completed and the remaining 15 are under various stages of construction are expected to be completed by the end of the fiscal year 2018-19, North Block sources said.
The sources said the quality of the roads will be Class 9 (meaning the roads can withstand a load of nine tonnes) and will enable to smoothly move equipment like medium and heavy artillery.
Connectivity between the passes along the border in Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh is better in contrast to Uttarakhand and Arunchal Pradesh besides Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
Officials said there are about 150 passes along the Indo-China border and close to 50 of them will be connected after the completion of the first phase of the ITBP priority roads.
In the absence of the roads along the passes, the current deployment of the ITBP is along the valley. Motorable roads connecting the passes will improve patrolling and logistics in the otherwise treacherous terrain with sub-zero temperatures.
China has built a significant network of roads along its side of the border and their troops have advantage in patrolling the area.
“Post-Doklam standoff, development of infrastructure along Indo-China border is top priority for the Government. The decision for infrastructure push along the frontier with China signifies change in mindset as the Army was earlier opposed to developing roads in these areas,” another official from the Border Management Division of the Home Ministry said.
The strategic shift in pushing infrastructure projects and modernising the ITBP comes after the over 70-day standoff between the troops of India and China at Doklam over construction of road in the area by People’s Liberation Army.
Road connectivity along the Himalayan frontier is expected to be at par with the Chinese infrastructure after completion of both the phases of the ITBP priority roads.
Raised in 1962, the ITBP guards 3488 km long borders in the Himalayas on the border out posts at altitudes ranging from 9000 to 18,700 ft with zero temperatures minimal oxygen supply.