Prior to his China visit in July, defence minister AK Antony has given his nod to the creation of a new mountain strike corps for the China border at Pannagarh and has sent the proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for a formal approval.
The proposal has already been cleared by the finance ministry.
Top government sources said Antony signed the China Strike Corps file after returning from his maiden official trip to Australia and Thailand on June 6.
The proposal spread over the 12th five year plan and costing about Rs. 60,000 crore to the exchequer, involves raising nearly 90,000 new troops and officers. The tri-services proposal has an army element that involves setting up of two infantry divisions, two armoured brigades for Ladakh and Sikkim and one independent infantry brigade for deployment in Uttarakhand.
The Air Force element involves creation of more air assets and deployment of low-level radars along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The naval element involves setting up of new radars along India’s island territories and additional sea combatants.
The decision to set up China Strike Corps, which will be headquartered in Pannagarh, West Bengal, was approved in principle by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010. The approval was made after discovering that China, through vastly upgraded infrastructure in Tibet, had developed the military capability of deploying 34 troop divisions — around half a million troops — along the LAC in a high threat scenario.
Although Antony will discuss the new border defence pact with his Chinese counterpart, India is committed not to allow a repeat of troop face-offs like in Depsang plains in March this year and is continuously upgrading its vigilance along the LAC. “We want to make it clear to China that there is no scope for any military adventure on the border and any escalation will be met with equal response. Thus, there is a need for both sides to maintain peace on the border,” said a senior defence ministry official.