India set to strengthen infra at 'ghost villages' near LAC to reverse migration
A senior government official said that in eastern Ladakh, villages are located far from the LAC. At many places, people have migrated to cities in other regions seeking livelihood.
NEW DELHI: ‘Ghost villages’ the areas deserted by villagers along the Line of Actual Control with China will soon see a reverse migration with Indian forces strengthening infrastructure in the region. The move comes in the backdrop of China developing model villages following the 2020 Galwan conflict and the prolonged border standoff.
Officials say there are over 500 ‘ghost villages’ along the LAC. These villages are abandoned or have a sparse population with limited connectivity. Indian authorities have started approaching residents of these hundreds of villages along the border to return, promising basic amenities such as health facilities and education.
Villagers along border areas are the second line of defence after the Army or the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The government now plans to rebuild these areas with offers of hill-centric livelihood and tourism opportunities.
A senior government official said that in eastern Ladakh, villages are located far from the LAC. At many places, people have migrated to cities in other regions seeking livelihood. In Himachal Pradesh, such villages have not witnessed a reverse migration. The villagers have settled in lower hills or have gone further down towards the plains.
However, in Uttarakhand, large-scale reverse migration has taken place with people returning to their villages after tourism prospects brightened up. In Sikkim and eastern Arunachal Pradesh, there is no reverse migration due to the lack of basic amenities.
Major General Ashok Kumar, VSM (Rtd) says the Army and border forces have to work in close coordination with local government authorities for the creation of model habitats with medical and education facilities in these ‘ghost villages.’
“Adequate infrastructure has to be in place to create tourism opportunities. Plus other facilities should be extended for the local population to enable them to re-start living in those villages. States have to facilitate the availability of land for various activities,” said the former Army officer.
China has built around 680 Xiaokang, which they call “well-off” villages across the borders. These are meant for military use as well as the second line of civilian resistance. The authorities have planned the construction of housing and tourist centres, roads and the provisioning of decentralized renewable energy, direct-to-home access for Doordarshan and educational channels as well as means for employment.
“All villages will have at least one primary school. Residential quarters will be built for teachers within the school campus,” said an officer. The Union Home Ministry also plans to chip in with various schemes under ‘Vibrant Village Programme’ along the LAC. A detailed project report has been prepared, sources said. To meet expenses for redevelopment, the ministry’s allocation for border management has been increased by nearly 43% from Rs 1921.39 crore to Rs 2517.02 crore in the annual budget for 2022-23.