As the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has increased focus on infrastructure along India’s border with China, the Himachal Pradesh government is now looking towards the Centre for maintaining roads of strategic importance along China-controlled Tibet.
“Maintenance of roads and bridges in border areas of the state must be taken up by central agencies,” chief minister Virbhadra Singh told Hindustan Times here on Wednesday.
“Roads along the border should be maintained either by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) or the Border Roads Organisation (BRO),” he said.
The chief minister’s appeal to the Centre comes in the wake of rising costs being incurred on the maintenance of roads, both main and lateral ones, along the state’s borders with China-controlled Tibet Autonomous Region.
“Roads along the border have to be maintained twice -- after the winter snow and following the rainy season,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh shares 220-km border with China controlled Tibet, 140-km along Kinnaur, and 80-km along Lahaul and Spiti district.
“The central government is aware of the situation along the border, which is no longer silent. We have no aggressive design, but certainly we want to preserve our territory,” said Virbhadra Singh.
The Himachal Pradesh government has already prepared a proposal for reviving the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road, which was constructed by the British in the 19th century.
The state government feels the urgency to revive the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road as it will provide all-weather connectivity to areas along the India-China border and will be an alternative to the New Hindustan-Tibet Road (national highway-22), which is prone to landslides beyond Wangtoo in Kinnaur.
China invested heavily on railways and roads to connect areas bordering Himachal Pradesh. Besides, it has also set up new military base in areas bordering Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti.
Meanwhile, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes vice-chairperson Ravi Thakur has shot off a letter to minister of state for home Kiren Rijju, drawing his attention towards the road conditions in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district.
Thakur, who is also a legislator from Lahaul and Spiti, has urged the minister to hand over the roads in the area to the BRO, which is the nodal agency to construct and maintain the roads in area.