New Delhi: Union Government has set up a committee of secretaries to fast-track infrastructure projects in the form of roads, tunnels and bridges along the northern borders with China.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and also attended, among others, by Road Minister Nitin Gadkari and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, besides CDS Lt General Anil Chauhan on March 14.
The meeting reviewed the progress in the construction of various infrastructure projects in the Northern border areas.
This comes at a time when there is almost three-year-long issues in eastern Ladakh.“All pending projects should be expedited on top priority,” Rajnath Singh said, stressing the need for adopting the “whole of nation” approach in matters of national security.
Sources said the procurement proposal for the missiles and associated equipment would soon be taken up for consideration by the Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC). It will be subsequently
taken up for clearance by the cabinet committee on security which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The committee of secretaries from the Ministries of Defence, Road, Transport & Highways, Telecommunications, Environment and Power, among others, will “meet at frequent intervals” to fast-track the projects.
Among the Ministers who attended the meeting were Nitin Gadkari (Road, Transport & Highways), Ashwini Vaishnaw (Railways and Communication), R K Singh (Power) and Bhupender Yadav (Environment).
Sources said, besides NSA Ajit Doval, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, and Ladakh Lieutenant Governor Brig (Dr) B D Mishra (Retd) were also present.
Several infrastructure projects are on the anvil along the Northern borders. The cabinet committee on security has recently approved the Rs 1,681 crore construction of the strategically-crucial 4.1-km tunnel under the forbidding Shinkun La on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. Nine new tunnels are currently under construction, including the 2.5-km Sela tunnel to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
There has also been a remarkable push for border infrastructure development in the North East along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for border infrastructure projects for 2023-24, up from Rs 3,500 crore in the previous fiscal.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated 28 border infrastructure projects worth Rs 724 crore in January 2023.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, Army Chief, General Manoj Pande and Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane also attended the meeting.
In the past three to four years, border infrastructure has significantly grown, particularly along the northern borders, in terms of new roads, bridges and tunnels to boost forward connectivity.