SHILLONG, Sept 24 – The race to catch up with China has heated up with New Delhi allocating Rs 10,000 crore to the Military Engineering Services (MES) alone, for infrastructure development in the North East for the next five years.
Engineers from the Defence forces now are assigned with this responsibility to develop the underdeveloped infrastructure in remote areas of the North East, especially in Arunachal Pradesh sharing a contentious border with China.
“We have been allotted Rs 9,000 crore only to develop infrastructure in the North East, besides the Rs 1,000 crore that we receive annually,” Lt Gen VK Narula, GOC of 101 Army headquarters responsible for logistic support, said, during a national seminar here.
He said the North East presents great challenge to engineers with its diverse terrain, geology and unavailability of skilled manpower. “The diversity of the region is a challenge for engineers. Therefore, no readymade solutions, but site-specific solutions are required for the region’s development,” Lt Gen Narula observed.
The Indian Defence forces has repeatedly urged policy-makers in New Delhi to speed up infrastructure development in areas of vulnerability along the Indo-China border. Numerous projects have been taken up in Arunachal Pradesh therefore in the past few years.
China on its part has not only developed the roads from some of its major cities and towns, but is in the process of developing a railway network right up to the borders of Arunachal Pradesh.
Similar proposal are being formulated by China to link Lhasa in Tibet to its frontier towns and cities along Nepal, Sikkim and Myanmar thus running parallel railway lines along the Indian border.
India belatedly has sanctioned the construction of some advanced helipads in Arunachal Pradesh and there are proposals to link Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh through rail networks.
Despite Defence officials often stating that it was not in a race to beat anybody, Brigadier RN Mittal, said, when it comes to infrastructure development, India always looks up to China for comparison. He urged engineers to come up with innovative ideas to structure the development of the region.