close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
September 19, 2020

India digs deep to boost defences on China frontier

World

AFP
September 19, 2020

ATAL ROHTANG TUNNEL, India: A tunnel nearing completion in the Indian Himalayas will slash by hours the time it takes troops to reach the Chinese border, part of an infrastructure blitz by New Delhi that is gathering pace since a bloody border clash.

“There have been times on the pass route when vehicles have broken down, causing traffic jams of even six to eight hour,” said Lieutenant-General Harpal Singh, head of India´s Border Roads Organisation (BRO). “This tunnel and the other infrastructure plans change a lot for the troops,” he told AFP. - Engineering feat

Labourers are working overtime to get the tunnel ready before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to open it later this month. “Earlier administrations wasted two decades,” said Harsh Pant, from the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi.

Sanjay Kundu, the Himachal Pradesh police chief, has also proposed arming locals and training them to report possible Chinese spies and drone and helicopter sightings. “Ultimately, whether it is at the border or the hinterland, people need to be trained and they need to be trained in defending themselves,” he told AFP. The government hopes it will reassure worried villagers. “In the last few weeks they´ve seen a lot more activity of fighter planes over the region,” said Lobsang Gyaltsen, an elected representative from a village around 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the border. “They often wonder if China is attacking,” Gyaltsen told AFP.

The BRO says it has built more strategic roads — most in the high-tension zone next to China — the last four years than in the previous decade and aims to complete 15 more key routes by the end of 2021. Labourers are upgrading a recently-completed 250-kilometre stretch parallel to the Chinese frontier that cuts journey times from Ladakh´s capital Leh from one week to less than a day. Significantly, by next month all bridges along the route will be able to support the weight of a 70-tonne T-90 tank on a trailer, or a truck carrying a surface-to-air missile, according to press reports. There are several strategic high-altitude tunnels as well as 125 bridges at different stages of planning in the states of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim bordering Tibet and Xinjiang.