New Delhi, Oct 13: Close on the heels of Doklam standoff, the defence ministry has decided to significantly enhance infrastructure along the nearly 4,000 km-long Sino-India border including around the areas of dispute. The decision was taken at the Army's commanders conference which extensively deliberated on the Doklam face off with China besides analysing all possible security challenges on the northern border, official sources said.
Director General Staff Duties Lt. Gen. Vijay Singh, briefing on the outcome of the conclave which was attended by top defence ministry officials among others, said it was decided that there would be considerable "heft" towards road construction activities in the northern sector. He said the commanders also examined organisational changes of some of the formations to enhance existing capability, indicating that the Army leadership was looking at bolstering its current operational preparedness to meet any contingencies.
In his address at the week-long conference which began on Monday, Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat asked the commanders to be prepared for all eventualities at all times. In this regard, he also emphasised the need to accord priority to procurement of arms, ammunitions and equipment, Lt. Gen Singh said. Official sources said capacity enhancement along the Sino-India border was a major focus area and the conclave decided to boost infrastructure along the entire stretch with China including around areas of dispute.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman also addressed the conference and lauded the swift and effective response of the Army in dealing with external and internal threats. The minister emphasised "the need to guard against inimical forces and talked about the need for jointness and integration of all the services in effectively dealing with emerging challenges," said Singh. Troops of India and China were locked in a stand-off in Doklam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The 73-day-long face-off ended on August 28, and days later Rawat had said that China has started "flexing its muscles". He warned that the situation in India's northern border could snowball into a larger conflict.
On boosting infrastructure, Singh said "four passes to Niti, Lipulekh, Thangla 1 and Tsangchokla have been decided to be connected by 2020 on priority." All these passes are in Uttarakhand. It was decided that additional funds will be alloted to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a defence ministry entity, to carry out infrastructure projects.
He said a roadmap for intra sector connectivity within central sector and inter-sector connectivity with neigbhouring areas have been discussed. "The issues that were highlighted or discussed during the conference related to infrastructure and capability development along the borders," Lt. Gen Singh said.
He said Sitharaman also affirmed that the morale and welfare of armed forces personnel shall remain a priority area for the government. The minister also stressed on the capability enhancement of the Army in a time-bound manner. PTI