Context:

China started operating the first bullet train line in Tibet, linking Lhasa to Nyingchi near the border with Arunachal Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Foreign Policies and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s Railway Near Arunachal Border
  2. China’s push in Border Infrastructure and reasons
  3. Steps Taken by India to counter Chinese infrastructure in Border
  4. India’s Border Area Development Programme (BADP)

About China’s Railway Near Arunachal Border

  • Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line is the second route linking Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) with mainland China – the Qinghai-Tibet railway line that connected Lhasa to the hinterland is the first such line.
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Two New Chinese Railway Lines to the Indian Border
  • The China State Railway Group said that the new Railway line operating the first bullet train, on which construction began in 2014, would connect the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region to the border city of Nyingchi with a travel time of three and a half hours.
  • Over 90% of the track is 3000 metres above sea-level, state media quoted the railway group as saying, and the line is the first electrified high speed rail (HSR) line, as China refers to bullet trains, in Tibet.
  • The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one among several major infrastructure projects recently completed in Tibet’s southern and southeastern counties near the Arunachal border.
  • The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway line connecting the two provincial capitals

Security Concerns regarding the railway line for India

  • The railway line will largely improve the efficiency and convenience of military personnel and material transportation and logistical supplies in the border area.
  • In situations of direct standoff near Arunachal Pradesh border, as was seen during Doklam or recent Ladakh standoff, China might be at an advantageous position.

China’s push in Border Infrastructure and reasons

  • A part of the border infrastructure push is the construction of new civilian settlements — along with the expansion of existing smaller hamlets — along border areas, some of which lie in disputed territories claimed by India and Bhutan, to strengthen China’s control over the land.
  • In 2017, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government launched a plan to build “moderately well-off villages” in border areas, of which many would be developed in the prefectures of Ngari, Shigatse, Shannan and Nyingchi, along China’s borders with India, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • In 2020, satellite images emerged showing a new village called Pangda built 2-3 km into what Bhutan sees as its land.
  • In January 2021, another village built newly 4-5 km into what India sees as its territory in Arunachal came to light via satellite images. Indian officials said this land has been under China’s effective control since 1959 and there were military barracks there earlier.
  • The civilian settlements, along with the new infrastructure connectivity, are seen as aimed at bolstering China’s control over the areas.

Steps Taken by India to counter Chinese infrastructure in Border

  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) constructed the Daporijo bridge over Subansiri river in Arunachal Pradesh which links roads leading upto the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, in a record span of just 27 days.
  • The foundation of a tunnel at Nechiphu in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh which will shorten travel time for troops till the LAC through Tawang, which China claims to be its territory was laid.
  • The BRO is already constructing an all-weather tunnel under the Se La pass in Arunachal Pradesh which connects Tawang to the rest of Arunachal and Guwahati.
  • The state government of Arunachal Pradesh has advocated selection of 10 census towns along the India-China border as pilot projects for infrastructure development in order to stop people living along its international borders, specifically with China, from migrating to faraway urban centres in the State.
  • Sisseri River Bridge located at lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh connecting Dibang Valley and Siang was inaugurated.
  • In 2019, the Indian Air Force inaugurated resurfaced runway at India’s easternmost Village-Vijaynagar (Changlang district) in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Bogibeel bridge, which is India’s longest road-rail bridge connecting Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh was inaugurated in 2018.
  • India is set to spend 10% funds of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) only to improve the infrastructure along the China border.

India’s Border Area Development Programme (BADP)

  • The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) was launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1986-87 as part of a comprehensive approach to Border Management.
  • BADP was initiated in the border areas of the western region during the Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-90), for ensuring balanced development of border areas through development of infrastructure and promotion of a sense of security among the border population.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme. Funds are provided to the states as a non-lapsable special central assistance for the execution of projects relating to infrastructure, livelihood, education, health, agriculture and allied sectors.
  • The States covered are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

-Source: The Hindu

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