Search This Blog

Despite clearance by UPA govt, Arunachal still awaits more ITBP personnel

A grand plan to double the number of troops guarding the India-China frontier in Arunachal Pradesh has not taken off despite a clearance given by the previous UPA government in April this year. Keeping in mind increasing Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), authorities had decided that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) would get greater manpower to secure the border in the north-eastern state.

Approval was given for building 54 new border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh to facilitate better patrolling and to keep a check on Chinese forces.

The new structures would more than double the number of posts along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by China. There are currently 40 posts along the 1,030-km border in the state.

The number of troops, too, will have to increase significantly. Currently, there are nearly 15,000 personnel guarding sensitive zones along the LAC, where several confrontations between Indian and Chinese forces had occurred in the past.

Sources said with the increase in outposts, the number of troops on the ground could be more than 30,000. There will also be a need for more logistics.

Still stuck
Government sources said the matter has not moved forward even an inch and the situation is still the same. "As of now, the construction of new border outposts is still in the pipeline. Nothing has been done to ensure that the new outposts are constructed at the earliest so that we can have more boots on the ground," said a government official.
The NDA government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was expected to implement the plan by expediting the process. Officials in the security establishment are hoping the recent standoff between Indian and Chinese forces in Ladakh will prompt the home ministry to push the plan.
"It needs a lot of planning and the entire budget needs to be cleared by the finance ministry," the official added.
After getting approval for the new outposts, the ITBP prepared a detailed report on the deployment of troops in critical zones. A roadmap for intensifying vigil on the LAC was submitted to the home ministry.
"There are critical gaps in the security on the border with China that need to be filled," said a senior home ministry official.
The Centre also plans to pump in more money to develop areas near the border to ensure there are more habitations. The home ministry has pushed for an additional outlay of Rs.5,000 crore for resettling people in the border areas. Sources said.
Sources said since there is no infrastructure, local residents have been pushed as far as 50 km from the border, making the region vulnerable to Chinese forces. Sources said some years ago, there were villages with sizeable populations up to 5 km from the border. They have been pushed back because of the lack of development, making the places vulnerable to intrusions. If people are resettled with better infrastructure, it will prevent Chinese forces from coming in.
With no roads in high-altitude border areas, patrolling is difficult. A road construction project began in 2004, but only about 40 per cent of the work has been done, sources said. The environment ministry was reluctant to give green clearances for roads and the home ministry was unable to get contractors. The Centre has now shown some urgency in building roads along the LAC by speeding up environmental clearances.
Urgent upgrade
There is also an urgent need to upgrade the ITBP, which has to take on Chinese forces with modern weaponry. As part of a mega police modernisation plan, the ITBP was sanctioned Rs.265 crore for the period between 2012 and 2017. Alarmingly, the force did not get a single penny under this plan. According to the plan, the force should have got Rs.150 crore till March 2014 but the home ministry did not release any money.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said funds for police modernisation need to be doubled.