Improving Connectivity On China Border: Arunachal Pradesh Witnesses 65 Per Cent Growth In Road Construction In Seven Years


Arunachal Pradesh, a border state, experienced a 65 per cent increase in the construction of national and state highways from 2015-16 to 2022-23.

Arunachal has a 1,863 km international border, including 1,126 km with China, 520 km with Myanmar, and 217 km with Bhutan.

The government of Arunachal Pradesh disclosed that road construction increased from 30,692 km in 2015-16 to 50,555 km in 2022-23. This includes 2,506 km of border roads, according to an Economic Times report.

The Arunachal Chief Minister said that his state has allocated 12.7 per cent of the budget for road and bridge construction, which is the highest spender in the country.

The road construction plan represents a huge increase in infrastructure in far-flung Arunachal Pradesh, a harsh, mountainous 84,000 square km (32,400 square mile) region known in China as South Tibet.

On its side of the border in Tibet, China has substantially upgraded roads and is building or expanding airports.

The roads programme of the present government could boost aspirations to construct a mountain strike corps of 80,000 troops capable of moving easily along its border.

In 1962, the world’s two most populous countries fought a brief border war in the area, and Chinese maps still display all of Arunachal Pradesh within China’s borders.

In the aftermath of the 2020 stand-off with the Chinese PLA, the Centre, along with state authorities and Border Roads Organisation (BRO), have increased the speed of road development.

This has led to the initiation of work on the third phase of the India-China Border Roads (ICBR-III), with several new projects identified. While the first two phases were planned in the early 2000s, work is still progressing for several ongoing projects.

Map of Arunachal Pradesh (Reuters)

Over the period of 2017-20, India has been able to double the pace of roads maintained annually by performing ‘formation cutting,’ which involves creating new alignments and earthworks, at a rate of 470 km per year, compared to the previous decade’s 230 km per year.

India and China share a border of 3,488 km spanning over Ladakh, Arunachal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

India-China Border areas (Eurasian Times)

As part of the India-China Border Roads programme, 73 roads were identified as strategic India-China border roads, with 61 of these being assigned to the BRO. The work on 29 out of the 61 projects has been completed while the remaining 32 are still in progress.

Amit Shah launched Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) in Arunachal Pradesh and promised to monitor development work regularly as Union Home Minister. About Rs 4,800 crore allotted by Union government, including Rs 2,500 crore for road connectivity, spanning 2022-23 to 2025-26.