Govt washes its hands of stalled road project near border

Krishna told the Lok Sabha that the Union government had nothing to do with the road project that had been stalled last October after Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had objected to it. He, however, assured the House that the Centre would expedite building infrastructure all along the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC).

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently confirmed that the construction of an eight-kilometre-long road at Demchok in south-east Leh had been stalled following objections from the Chinese PLA. The road was being constructed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

But speaking in the Lower House at the end of a discussion on Sino-Indian relation on Wednesday; Krishna said the Centre had no role in either starting or halting the road project and it was completely a matter to be dealt with by the J&K government. Krishna’s remarks came four days after Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told journalists India had already taken up the issue of the stalled road project with China during a flag-meeting on the LAC.

Initiating the discussion on Sino-Indian ties, BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi said China had taken an aggressive posture on its ties with India over the past two-three years. He said China had opposed India’s bid to get a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and had even tried to block a loan from the Asian Development Bank as a part of it had been meant for infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh — one of the main bones of contention in the Sino-Indian boundary dispute.

Joshi expressed concerns over reported incursions by the Chinese Army across the McMahon Line. He said the US and China had been quietly developing an economic and strategic relationship all these years. “China and the US will eventually divide the world between themselves. My apprehension is whether the US will come to India’s rescue if China occupies some parts of India.”

Several MPs of the Opposition parties as well as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party alleged that the government had been pursuing a soft policy towards China and misleading the country on incursions by the PLA. The Congress MPs, however, pointed out that India had emerged a global power over the past four decades and a repeat of the 1962 aggression by China was no more possible.

CPM MP Khagen Das said friendly ties between China and India would be beneficial for the citizens of not only both the countries, but also of the world.

Krishna played down reports of incursions and said such incidents had been taking place due to both sides’ differing perception on the boundary. He said India and China were trying to resolve the boundary dispute though dialogue. “But,” he added, “this is a complex and time-consuming process.”

He rejected the Opposition MPs’ allegation that India had been pursuing a soft policy towards China. “We have not been very hard. But we have been very correct,” he said, referring to recent announcement by New Delhi that it would not accept as a valid travel document the stapled Chinese visa.

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