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National News Sourced Wired

0 km: 60 km along Indo-China border

Itanagar, Oct.26 (ANI): ‘The headline should look like the eyes of a damsel to attract readers’, was a lesson for the mass communication students insofar as reporting is concerned.

I wonder if this headline would stir the readers’ psyche?

A visit to Bumla in Tawang district along the India-China border on October 20, was shockingly disgusting.

Maruti Gypsy and Mahindra’s Scorpio, both sturdy vehicles on hilly roads, found it difficult to negotiate the 45-km road from Tawang to the last border outpost that took almost two hours.

Few patches were only boulders without any sign of road. Travelling along the steep road was a uphill task, well neigh impossible to maneuver that forced the drivers to travel at almost 0 km speed.

This prompted a top ranking IPS officer to comment that the road condition is as it was a decade ago when I visited.

Chief Minister Nabam Tuki assured to take up with the defence ministry for improving the border roads maintained by the BRO for the security of the nation.

This was the status of border road almost 19 months after Defence Minister A K Antony at Itanagar on 20th February 2012 had said that: “By and large, the border is peaceful, and at the same time, India is taking care of strengthening the capabilities to protect our national interest from any kind of challenges from any quarters. The eastern border is safe and we will make it safer, (and) for that, whatever is needed to strengthen our security apparatus, we are taking care of it continuously in a systematic manner.”

“India is strengthening its security capabilities in the eastern border. Along with that, we are also taking care of the socio-economic development of the border areas. I want to make it amply clear that our security forces are capable of protecting our national interests,” said Antony without mincing any words.

What an irony? For, on arrival at the Bumla Pass, it was learnt that Land Cruisers used by the People’s Liberation Army travel at 60 km speed to reach the black topped road on the other side of the border.

Undoubtedly, Lok Sabha member Ninong Ering had told the floor of the house on April 20 last that the 1962 situation (When India had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of China) still prevailed along the Indo-China border. India and China shares about 3,500 km border, 1,080 km in Arunachal Pradesh alone.

The union rural development ministry has approved a network of roads and bridges to improve connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh, a decision that comes just ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing and underscores the strategic importance of the bordering state over parts of which China lays claim.

The pre-empowered committee of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, the Centre’s rural roads programme, has cleared construction of 57 roads and 58 long-span bridges covering 842 km. Of these, 21 roads and 46 bridges are in areas along the India-China border. The projects will cost Rs 819 crore and connect 170 habitations in the state. State agencies and National Building Construction Corporation, a central public sector company, will construct these roads and bridges.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh’s push for strengthening connectivity in international border areas has led to speedy clearances since January for construction of 95 roads and 31 long-span bridges in the state, covering a length of 1,190 km at a cost of Rs 894 crore. The government has approved construction of roads connecting 126 clusters of habitations, each of which have population of less than 250.

The Bumla outpost records upto 15 feet deep snowfall and temperature goes down below -23 degree but the jawans continue to guard the border.

When would good sense prevail upon the New Delhi mandarins is a million dollar question! By Pradeep Kumar (ANI)

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