Security along the Sino-Indian border and development of infrastructure in the frontier regions will be at the top of the agenda during a day-long meeting of chief ministers of five Himalayan states convened by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Gangtok on Saturday. The move comes days after India refused to participate in China's Silk road project 'One Belt, One Road' conference in Beijing and a month after the diplomatic tussle over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh. Chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh -- Mehbooba Mufti, Virbhadra Singh, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Pawan Kumar Chamling and Pema Khandu respectively -- are expected to attend the conclave. This is for the first time that such a meeting is being organised by the home ministry. Singh will leave for Sikkim tomorrow. The objective of the meeting is to strengthen the coordination between the Union home ministry and the five states along the Sino-Indian border to improve the overall border security, an official statement said today. It said the states were also partners in maintenance of security along the border. In the CMs' meet, discussions will be held on the border infrastructure work undertaken by the ministry, the border area development programme and coordination issues between the states and the Indo Tibetan Border Police, which guards the 3,488 km-long Sino-Indian border, it said. Construction of roads, redressal of the situation arising out of lack of infrastructure in the frontier areas and a host of other issues will be discussed at the meeting, an official said. China is known to have improved its infrastructure along the border by constructing roads, bridges, railway network and airports. India shares an 3,488 km-long border with China that runs along the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The total length of the border in Jammu and Kashmir is 1,597 km, Himachal Pradesh 200 km, Uttarakhand 345 km, Sikkim 220 km and Arunachal Pradesh 1,126 km. The border is not fully demarcated and the process of clarifying and confirming the Line of Actual Control is in progress. The border areas, which are located at high altitudes, have inadequate development and infrastructure facilities. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) guards this border and has established 173 Border Out Posts (BOPs) . Out of these BOPs, there are 35 BOPs in the western sector (Jammu and Kashmir), 71 BOPs in the middle sector (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand) and 67 BOPs in the eastern sector (Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh). The central government is at present constructing 73 roads of operational significance along the border.
Out of these 73 roads, 27 roads with a total length of 804.93 km are being constructed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 1,937 crore. Till April 30 this year, work on 672.46 kms including 409.53 kms of surfacing, has been completed. During his three-day visit, the Union home minister will go to the Nathula Pass on Saturday and the ITBP border post at Lachung to meet the jawans. He will visit an establishment of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in Sikkim on the next day, besides undertaking an aerial view of three SSB border posts along the Indo-Nepal Border. Singh will also interact with the jawans at a Sainik Sammelan at Geyzing in Sikkim on Sunday. It will motivate jawans guarding the borders at very high altitudes and in inhospitable terrain, the statement said. The home minister will attend a civic reception at Pelling in West District, Sikkim on Sunday.
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