Antony pulls up defences forces for delay in North-East projects
Upset with the tardy progress in infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh, Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday hauled up the Army, Air Force and military engineering agencies for inordinate delays and asked them to quickly finish pending projects.
The unfinished North-East projects include laying a large number of roads, at least five advanced landing grounds for military transport aircraft and upgrading a large number of helipads and air fields. Once completed, these linkages will allow India to quickly move its troops close to the China-India border in case of any attacks from across the border.
“The agencies need to go beyond the probable date of completion in Arunachal projects in view of the current security situation. Time has come for implementation of deliverable,” Antony said at a high-level review meeting.
The Centre gave additional impetus to infrastructure development in the North East following China’s rapid progress in connectivity in Tibet and surrounding areas.
China has a road network in excess of 58,000 km in Tibet Autonomous Region. The Qinghai Tibet railway line is being extended to Xigaze and a second railway line from Kashgar to Hotan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is under construction. Five airfields in TAR – Gongar, Pangta, Linchi, Hoping and Gar Gunsa – are operational.
But progress on the Indian side is patchy to say the least. Construction is completed only partially in 30 strategic roads in the North East (1901.36 km) which includes a special Arunachal package for 5 roads (812 km). Spreading the railway network (14 strategic lines) is caught on red tapes and out of six ALG, only one in Vijaynagar is operational.
Others ALGs to be reactivated in Arunachal are Passighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting and Ziro. Several unused helipads will also be reopened.
Absence of environmental clearance, problems in land acquisition and unavailability of work force are some of the factors hampering the progress. “The defence ministry may even ask Border Roads Organisation to outsource some of its projects,” said a ministry official. A separate review on BRO projects is on the cards. The government has identified 73 roads as strategic border roads which includes road links both in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East. Out of these BRO roads, 16 roads have been completed, 26 roads are scheduled for completion by 2013 and the remaining by 2019.The new minister of state for defence Jitender Singh has been entrusted with the task of getting environmental clearances and coordinate with states for land acquisition for quick implementation of these projects.