‘India needs to match China’s road infrastructure along border,’ says Parliamentary panel
India has launched a massive programme to upgrade infrastructure along the frontier, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, following a string of intrusions by Chinese troops. However, experts believe the work needs to be speeded up to match infrastructure on the Chinese side.Updated: Dec 19, 2018 23:08 IST
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) “needs a thorough overhaul” as part of measures to improve roads and infrastructure along the disputed border with China, a parliamentary standing committee has said.
India has launched a massive programme to upgrade infrastructure along the frontier, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, following a string of intrusions by Chinese troops. However, experts believe the work needs to be speeded up to match infrastructure on the Chinese side.
In its report on India-China ties, Parliament’s standing committee on external affairs referred to “inadequate infrastructure including roads” along the border and said there is a “distinct feeling that BRO as an organisation with antiquated rules of delegation needs a thorough overhaul”.
The panel, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, said it was “perturbed…that despite a marked progress in recent years, the border road infrastructure on the India-China border is grossly inadequate, as confirmed by its own observations from its visits”.
In several important sectors, India is “dependent on single access routes, a risky proposition in times of conflict”.
It added, “Worse, many roads are not built to withstand military traffic. Chinese had specifically taken advantage of this in the 1962 war and therefore we ought to draw lessons from the past on this matter.”
The BRO, which draws its officers and personnel from the army, is responsible for building and maintaining roads in border regions. The committee recommended the BRO should work to “achieve full connectivity” and government should “significantly enhance the level of priority it gives to border roads” in view of last year’s standoff with Chinese troops at Doklam.
Jayadeva Ranade, a former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer and president of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, said a decision to improve infrastructure along the China border was made in 2005-06 but progress had been “very slow”.
“The Border Roads Organisation’s work has been extremely slow and there is a need to look at new construction technology and involving the private sector, including foreign firms if necessary, in building this infrastructure,” he said.