NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a clutch of proposals to strengthen the frontier with China, including raising seven new battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), building a 4.1-km all-weather tunnel for connectivity to Ladakh’s border areas and a project to stem migration from border villages in the north.
The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared a proposal to hire 9,400 fresh personnel for seven new battalions apart from a new operational base for the ITBP, which is deployed across the Line of Actual Control with China. India is locked in a stand-off along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since mid-2020.
The additional battalions will be raised to man 47 new Border Out Posts and 12 staging camps along the LAC, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur said. The new personnel will be stationed mainly in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Cabinet also approved the construction of a 4.1-km Shinkun La tunnel on the Nimu-Padam-Darcha road link to provide all-weather connectivity to the border areas of Ladakh. It is slated to be completed by December 2025 at a cost of Rs 1,681 crore. This (project) is also very important as far as the security and safety of the country is concerned.... It will also help in the movement of our security forces in that region,” Thakur said.
The Cabinet also approved a scheme to reverse outmigration from border villages in the north, called the Vibrant Villages Programme, with allocation of `4,800 crore till 2025-26. A Centrally sponsored project, it involves comprehensive development of specified villages on the northern border to improve the quality of life of people there so as to encourage them to stay in their native locations. It is expected to improve security of the border.
The scheme aims to develop essential infrastructure and create livelihood opportunities in 19 districts and 46 border blocks in four states and one Union Territory along the northern land border. In the first phase, 663 villages will be taken up for development, Thakur said. Of the `4,800 crore earmarked for the scheme, Rs 2,500 crore will be spent on building roads.
The scheme aims to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local natural human and other resources of the border villages and development of growth centres on hub-and-spoke model through promotion of entrepreneurship.
Development push for border villages
The Vibrant Village Programme aims to build all-weather roads, provide drinking water, ensure 24x7 electricty and mobile and internet connectivity