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Alternate road connectivity being developed along Indo-China border

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KOLKATA, Dec 27: Eastern army commander Lt General Rana Pratap Kalita on Wednesday said that there are plans to construct alternate road-connectivity in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This is being done to enable India to match China in terms of infrastructure development along the borders between the two countries.

He said the Chinese have an advantage in some areas because they started infrastructure development in these places early.

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“In the last five to 10 years, a lot of focus has been on infrastructure development and I am sure in another couple of years, we will be able to match the capability of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army of China),” general officer commanding-in-chief, eastern army command, Lt General R P Kalita said in a media interaction at Fort William here.

Asserting that there is still a lot of work to do, Kalita, who is set to retire on December 31, said given the rate at which India is carrying out infrastructure development, it can be achieved by that time frame.

As of now, the PLA has a certain amount of advantage over India as far as infrastructure in certain specific areas is concerned, he added. “Otherwise, we have been able to match,” he said.

To a question about priority areas for infrastructure development in border areas for dual civil-military use, Kalita said road connectivity up to the border posts, data communication and mobile connectivity, helipads and airports in the remote areas top the list.

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“Because of large distances involved and these areas being prone to landslides, snowslides and avalanches, we need to depend on helipads and ALGs (advanced landing grounds) to a large measure,” he said.

He also highlighted the need for accommodation for people to stay and operate from these areas.

Kalita said plans are afoot to build alternative road connectivity in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Strategically important north Sikkim was cut off after flash floods in Teesta river on October 4 washed away parts of the arterial national highway 10 at Singtam in the small Himalayan state, which shares its borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan.

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Kalita said that there exists some alternative routes but these are not well developed.

He said infrastructure development will not only help the armed forces, but will also be beneficial to the local populace in bettering their lives as well as increasing livelihood opportunities through increase in tourism activities. (PTI)

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