Slowdown hits strategic rail lines along China border
By Ritu Sharma - NEW DELHI
Published: 24th Jun 2012 11:09:01 AM
The economic downturn has now slammed into infrastructure-building along the Line-of-Actual Control (LAC), the Ministry of Finance expressing its inability to spare the Rs 80,000 crore needed to construct six strategic railway lines in the regions bordering China. These lines are “commercially non-viable”, for the railway ministry as well as the finance ministry.
All this when China has laid down 10,000 km of rail lines network in the adjacent Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The Indian Army had proposed construction of 14 strategic lines in the Ladakh and north-eastern regions of the country—six of these lines have been accorded top priority by the Ministry of Defence. “Six of these lines in the mountainous terrain will entail expenditure of Rs 80,000 crore. The Ministry of Railways has expressed its inability to spare that kind of cash for these links. The Ministry of Finance has also said that it cannot spare this much amount at the moment,” sources said, adding the economic slowdown has made the finance ministry postpone its commitment to border area rail network. The delay in moving forward on these construction projects could cause India dear as China is moving at a feverish pace on this front. The infrastructure development in the TAR region along the 4,057-km Indo-Chinese border has given the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the capability to move around 4,50,000 soldiers to the border within 30 days, or three Chinese soldiers for one Indian soldier.
The proposed Indian railway lines are aimed at all-weather quick troop mobilisation and logistics sustenance if the rivalry around the unresolved Indo-China border erupts into hostilities . The Indian Army’s last hopes are now pinned on the Planning Commission to implement these projects at the earliest. Most of these projects are located in the North-East, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Some of the important railway projects in North East are Missamari (Assam) to Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), North Lakhimpur (Assam) to Along (Arunachal Pradesh) and Murkongselek (Assam)-Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh). Tawang is strategically important to India and the one region in the North-east claimed by