The Indian government plans to develop a network of strategic roads along its borders with China, a senior military official was quoted as saying in a media report on Saturday. The planned road network in remote northeast and the Ladakh region in Kashmir comes against a backdrop of Chinese infrastructure build-up along the border, it was reported. “By 2013 we would be able to complete work on the bulk of the roads,” Border Roads Organization chief Lieutenant General S Ravi Shankar was quoted as telling reporters in New Delhi.
About 63% of work is complete on 27 roads in Arunachal Pradesh and 12 in Ladakh, Shankar said, adding that these are high priority roads “closely monitored at the highest levels”. The report follows a claim by the government earlier this year that Chinese troops had threatened Indian workers in an area of the Himalayas claimed by both countries.
The government says China is illegally occupying 38,000 square kilometres of its northwestern territory, while Beijing claims a 90,000-square-kilometre chunk of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. The disputed borders have become a focus for friction between the two fast-developing nations. India has beefed up its military presence along the Chinese border with thousands of extra combat troops, armour and expanded airbases.
The borders between India and China have been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief but a brutal war over the issue. Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao met Manmohan Singh in New Delhi late last year and reaffirmed a 1993 pledge to maintain peace in border areas and continue talks.