India ramps up road construction and Advanced Landing Grounds in Arunachal Pradesh with focus on China
Though the relations between India and China have improved, India has been cautious of the strong road infrastructure the Chinese have built near Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha India has “taken cognizance of the road infrastructure created by China” opposite Arunachal Pradesh, and that the government was undertaking a “holistic plan” in order to ramp up the requirements of the defence forces positioned in the region, said a statement.
The government, he said, had identified 73 stretches as strategic Indo-China Border Roads (ICBR), out of which 27 (measuring 1,791.96 km) are in Arunachal Pradesh and are being taken up by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
He revealed 21 roads (measuring 661.59 km) have been completed. Admitting that the there have been bottlenecks in the implementation of road-construction projects, Parrikar said the government had taken specific measures to remove these bottlenecks and accelerate construction in the region.
Highlighting these measures, he said an Empowered Committee with various secretaries of the departments concerned had been created to tackle issues related to land acquisition, forest and wildlife clearance and allotment of quarries, among others.
There is general approval from the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) for diversion of forest land for BRO construction in areas that are within 100 km of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The government has also allowed outsourcing in order to build the BRO’s capacity. BRO executives have been given “enhanced” financial and administrative powers. Also, the Central government has approved a Long-Term Roll-On Work Plan (LTROWP) and a Long-Term Equipment Plan (LTEP).
Meanwhile, in a major boost to the operational capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the upgradation of Ziro and Along Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal Pradesh has been completed.
“The ALGs will further enhance our existing operational capabilities in Eastern Air Command,” a statement quoited Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Air Command, as saying.
He also said the capacity build-up of the Ziro ALG would help IAF’s strategic transport aircraft like C-130J Super Hercules conduct operations, and that the ALGs would eventually pave the way for civilian air connectivity.
Vayudoot airline conducted civilian operations from the Ziro airfield in the mid-1980s, but the runway has since deteriorated owing to lack of maintenance and other issues.
Following the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2009 to upgrade eight ALGs with an outlay plan of Rs 1,000 Crore, the IAF took over the Ziro airfield from Airport Authority of India (AAI) in 2010.
Currently, out of the eight ALGs, five have been operational, while the rest are in various stages of upgradation.
In the next three months, IAF will inaugurate three more ALGs, and the Tawang ALG upgradation is “ongoing” likely to be ready by September 2016