Poor infrastructure and slow pace of developmental projects along the China border in Himachal Pradesh have seemingly attracted the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
With the aim of reviewing these projects and interacting with troops in the frontier districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju is on a two-day visit to the hill state.
Rijiju reached Kullu by a special airplane of the Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday and later flew to Manali in a chopper. On Wednesday morning, he will fly to Sumdo that is close to the China border. There he will interact with both troops and officials of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) that mans the 230km international border adjoining the Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts.
Rijiju will also meet the public at Kaza and listen to their grievances. Later he will pay obeisance at the Key Monastery, located 13,668 feet above sea level in Spiti valley. Built in the 11th century, the Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the biggest in Spiti and a religious training centre for Lamas (Tibetan Buddhist teachers).
While China has strengthened its infrastructure along the international border, poor roads and communication are a rising concern for Himachal Pradesh.
The areas bordering China continue to have deplorable roads and poor air connectivity. The army and state have been urging the central government for funds to construct an airport at Rangrik in Lahaul and Spiti. The airport, proposed at a height of 12,000 feet, will be used both for civil and military purposes with the aim of enhancing the army's strategic capabilities and giving an impetus to tourism.
The army has also been pressing for upgrading the communication network, particularly in Shalkar and Chango villages located close to the China-occupied Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
According to the army, garrisons of the formation are located in remote and tribal areas of the state and due to heavy snow fall electricity supply often gets disrupted. Therefore, formations in the border areas rely on diesel-run generators to meet their electricity need. To resolve this, the army had sent a proposal to Himachal Pradesh Energy Development Agency (HIMURJA) to set up 100 kWp solar plants at Prithi and Sumdo stations.
Besides, the Himachal Pradesh government has also been demanding timely opening of vital passes like Rohtang, Kunzum and Baralacha that connect the state with the rest of the country. The control of these passes lies with the defence ministry's Border Road Organisation.
Central govt to beef up infrastructure in border areas: Minister
Kullu: Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said Tuesday the Indian government was committed to end terrorism. Interacting with reporters during his visit to Manali, he said he would attend a meeting with army officials at the Sumdo border in Lahaul-Spiti district on Wednesday. "The central government will focus on strengthening basic infrastructure in border areas, for which `990 crore has been allotted in the FY16 budget," he added.