India is stepping up efforts to counter China’s LAC build-up | Daily News Byte

India is stepping up efforts to counter China’s LAC build-up

 | Daily News Byte

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NEW DELHI: Amid the increased likelihood of a repeat of incidents like what happened recently in the Tawang sector, India has stepped up efforts to counter China’s build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). While talks are already underway to increase the operational role of the Indian Air Force (IAF) along the LAC, New Delhi is giving fresh impetus to projects aimed at strengthening border infrastructure to counter an embattled Beijing. Diplomatic teams are already working to strengthen ties with the countries that bear the brunt of Beijing’s belligerence to garner global support against Chinese aggression.
“Projects and operations are not limited to Arunachal Pradesh but infrastructure is being strengthened on a war footing along our 3,488 km long border that stretches across Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim,” diplomatic sources told The Sunday. Guardian. In fact, India has been expanding infrastructure along the LAC faster than the Eastern Ladakh conflict in 2020.
India’s decision to revive a long-delayed plan to extend its rail network to Bhutan is an important development in the context of its strategy to counter China. Sources said the project will give a boost to the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative. “This initiative will help India counter China’s growing buildup along the LAC,” the source said.
According to sources, the survey started recently by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone of Indian Railways to connect Kokrajhar in Assam with Gelepu in Bhutan will be completed in the next few months. “Several officials related to this project have been asked by senior government officials to complete the survey to start construction,” the source said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally monitoring this project, sources said.
Rail links between India and its BBIN neighbors will ensure better movement of people and goods within the bloc. It will improve economic cooperation and people-to-people contact, officials told this newspaper. The 57.7 km long cross-border railway project will require an investment of Rs 1,000 crore and the proposed broad gauge line would pass through the hilly terrains of Bhutan.
The rail link is of strategic importance as it will facilitate India’s efforts to counter China’s efforts to expand its military and other capabilities along the disputed Himalayan border, diplomatic sources familiar with the project said. It is undeniable that China is carrying out massive infrastructure development activities in the region. “Three more rail projects near the LAC in Arunachal and Sikkim are also being fast-tracked,” sources said.
Similarly, the Modi government has asked the officials concerned to extend support to projects aimed at increasing the road network along the LAC. Several roads have already been constructed along the border areas which also pass through Arunachal Pradesh. There is much more in the plan that would be accelerated now.
Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, told the Lok Sabha on Friday that the Border Roads Organization (BRO) has constructed 3,097 km of roads in Arunachal Pradesh and 3,140 km in the Union Territory of Ladakh in the last five years. The Ministry of Defense entrusted BRO with the construction of roads in the border areas, according to the priority set by the Army, based on the five-year long-term turnaround plan (LTRoVP), the minister said. BRO has constructed 64 roads spanning 3,097 km in Arunachal Pradesh and 43 roads spanning 3,140 km in Ladakh in the last five years, according to information shared. Details of roads constructed in other States and Union Territories include 18 roads (663,535 km) in Sikkim; 22 roads (947.21 km) in Uttarakhand; 61 roads (2,381,963 km) in UT Jammu and Kashmir; 13 roads (884,309 km) in Rajasthan.
In addition, the Government of India is implementing the Border Area Development Program (BADP) through State Governments and Union Territory Administrations in settlements located within 0-10 km of the first settlement on the international border in 117 border districts of 16 states and two Union Territories, the Minister informed Lok Sabha.
According to available information, on October 28, 2022, 75 new infrastructure projects to be built in border areas were launched.
Another important development is the US decision to strengthen defense ties with New Delhi. In what is seen as a welcome development, an $858 billion defense bill passed by the US Senate aims to strengthen defense ties with India and funds billions of dollars in measures to address China’s national security challenges.
The National Defense Authorization Act, known as the NDAA, was approved by the Senate on Thursday. The bill was adopted by the House of Representatives on December 8. It now heads to the White House to be signed into law by President Joe Biden. According to reports, the NDAA seeks to strengthen US-India relations by directing the defense and state departments to pursue greater engagement and expanded cooperation with India on new technology, joint research and development, defense and cyber capabilities and other opportunities for cooperation including reducing reliance of India on Russian defense equipment. “Increased cooperation on the defense front between India and the US will be aimed at meeting the challenges arising from Chinese aggression,” the diplomats in collaboration with their counterparts in Washington told the Sunday Guardian.
In another major development, the US State Department officially launched its China House unit on Friday (December 16). The unit represents an internal reorganization to help and sharpen the department’s China policymaking. “The scope and scale of the challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China will test American diplomacy like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Diplomats analyzing the US move said the creation of the “China House” signals that the Biden administration will be more focused on China, the way it “was obsessed with the conflict in Ukraine.” Sources said China will see a more aggressive stance by the Indian armed forces. The training that the soldiers recently underwent through the “Jud Abjas” exercises would be of great help to them, they added. Increased combat air patrols at airports in the Kashmir Valley, Tezpur and Hasimari will be part of India’s strategy to counter China’s air deployment, sources said.

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