The Centre is mulling setting up a study group to analyse the security and development issues along the China border, with a special focus on involving the frontier population in the mainstream of the country.
The study group or the committee will also interact with the state governments and other representative groups of the states whose borders run with China, before they submit their report to the Union home ministry.
Home minister Rajnath Singh, during his recent forward area tour to the China border areas along Uttarakhand, told PTI that the group will be soon constituted to conduct a wholesome study on various aspects that pose a challenge and need improvement on the about 4,000-km border spread across five eastern states of the country. Singh, after interacting with ITBP troops at their border post here in the Chamoli district, said the group will also look at ways to further expedite the work of completing border roads in these states. The minister underlined the need to enhance the government support system in these areas in a recent speech in Joshimath when he called the border population as “strategic assets” of the country who need to be given due importance.He urged border guarding forces, such as the ITBP, to ensure that the locals living in these areas do not migrate. "The local population are the eyes and ears of the country and its security mechanism. If they are not there, then it is a worrisome situation," a senior official of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said "The study group, apart from studying these issues, will also analyse what more needs to be done to enhance the overall security and defence systems along the China border," the official said. The home ministry had recently set up an expert committee of a similar nature to examine the rules which allow free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km of the border, but are exploited by militants for smuggling arms, drugs, and fake Indian currency. Addressing locals and ITBP troops at Joshimath on September 30, Singh had said the border population should be given more importance as the government has "full faith and trust" in the people living in these remote areas. "People living along the India-China border should not be made to migrate at any cost.
They are our strategic assets. They should be given more importance. The day they will migrate...that will not be good for our border security," he had said. The minister said the border population is considered important by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government. "The prime minister has said special attention should be given to the well-being of the people living on the borders. I will request ITBP (personnel) to make friends with the local population in the area of their border deployment," he said. The minister asked the border force to hold special camps to help the locals and assist them in redressing their problems. The 3,488 km-long India-China border stretches through Jammu and Kashmir (1,597 km), Himachal Pradesh (200 km), Uttarakhand (345 km), Sikkim (220 km) and Arunachal Pradesh (1,126 km). Recently, Chinese and Indian troops were in a face-off situation for more than two months in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector after Indians stopped the construction of a road by China's Army. The Sino-India border is not fully demarcated and the process of clarifying and confirming the Line of Actual Control is in progress. The area is characterised by high-altitude terrain and thick habitation which have resulted in inadequate development of infrastructure in these regions. To redress the situation arising out of lack of infrastructure along border with China, the government has decided to undertake construction of 73 roads of operational significance. Of these, 27 roads involving 804.93 km are being constructed by the home ministry in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 1,937 crore.