Border areas must be developed: Antony | india | Hindustan Times
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Border areas must be developed: Antony

Upset over the poor infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border, the defence minister assures urgent steps for improvement.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2007 01:38 IST
Jatin Gandhi

When he smiled and shook hands with Chinese Army officers across the barbed wire that marks the line of actual control between the two nations on Sunday, Defence Minister AK Antony couldn’t have missed the black tar road on the other side. He chose to call his visit “an eye-opener”, referring to the roads and facilities the Chinses have built on their side of the border.

India needs to dramatically improve its road networks in the border areas if it is to keep up with developments on the Chinese side, said Antony — the first Defence Minister to visit the LAC since trade through the pass resumed in July last year, after 44 years. “Infrastructure on the other side is far, far superior,” he added.

Posing for media photographers on the Indian side and camera-toting soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army on the Chinese side, Antony said: “I am happy now that I have got to know the situation. I will vigorously champion the cause of developing infrastructure. We need to develop infrastructure not only for the army but for the civilian population. We have to take it up seriously.”

On resumption of trade through Nathu La, he said: “The idea is to increase this gradually. I hope in the years to come, more and more items will be included for trade. People of both sides will benefit from it. But before that, we have to develop our infrastructure.”

Border trade closed for the winter last Thursday.

During Antony’s visit, Brigadier S.L. Narasimhan, commander of the 63 Brigade that is tasked with guarding Nathu La, briefed him on the ground situation on the border. The minister also met Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.