The development-cum-connectivity initiative will help in improving the quality of life of people living in identified border villages and strenthening the security of the border.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday flagged off India’s ambitious ‘Vibrant Villages Programme’ at Kibithoo, a village located near India-China border, in Arunachal Pradesh’s eastern Anjaw district on Monday.
The initiative is part of Centre’s efforts to connect all the border villages in states sharing Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
The programme is a Rs 4800 crore centrally sponsored scheme. Under the programme, 2,967 villages in 46 blocks of 19 districts abutting the northern border in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory of Ladakh have been identified for comprehensive development over the period 2022-23 to 2025-26. The programme will also have a Rs 2,500-crore road connectivity component .
In the first phase, 662 villages have been identified on priority, which includes 455 villages in Arunachal Pradesh.
The development-cum-connectivity initiative will help in improving the quality of life of people living in identified border villages and encourage people to stay in their native locations thereby reversing out migration from these villages and strenthening security of the border.
The district administration with the help of appropriate mechanisms at block and panchayat levels will prepare action plans for identified villages to ensure 100 percent saturation of central and state schemes.
The focus areas of interventions identified for the development of villages include road connectivity, drinking water, electricity including solar and wind energy, mobile and internet connectivity, tourist centers, multi-purpose centers and healthcare infrastructure and wellness centers.
Dovetailed into this programme is the Centre’s plan to raise seven more battalions of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) with 47 new outposts and 12 staging camps at a cost of Rs 1800 crore to guard the India-Tibet border from any Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intrusions.
The programme is New Delhi’s response to the 628 model ‘xiaokang’ (moderately prosperous) villages built by China all across Tibet border areas, one-third of which are closer to the 3,488-km LAC with India.
China started constructing these villages, which have a dual civilian-military use, in 2017. China completed building these villages in 2021 at a whopping cost of Rs 3.76 lakh crore, with at least one Communist Party cadre, surveillance systems, telecommunications, border defence duties and other facilities for border domination.
China opposes visit
Meanwhile, China said it firmly opposes Shah’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, adding that the minister’s activities in the area violated China’s territorial sovereignty, reported Reuters.
Beijings futile attempts to rename places
Last week on Sunday, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs had released a third set of names for 11 places in Chinese, Tibetan and Pinyin characters for Arunachal Pradesh. The Global Times, which is part of the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily group of publications in China, reported on Monday.
India outrightly once again rejected Beijing’s attempt to rename places in Arunachal Pradesh and asserted that the state has “been” and will “always be” an integral part of India.
“This is not the first time that China is making such attempts, and we have criticised such attempts. Arunachal Pradesh is an inalienable part of India. China giving its own inventive names will not change the ground reality. I would like to re-emphasise that,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said.
US rejects China’s claims
Beijing’s attempts to advance a territory claim over Arunachal Pradesh by renaming localities, were strongly objected to and opposed by the United States as well.
“This is another attempt by the Chinese claim on US, Indian territory. So the United States, as you know, has recognized that territory for a long time and we strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to advance a territory claim by renaming localities. And so, again, this is something that we have long stood by a few things,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
In 2017 China , for the first time, announced ‘standardised’ official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh, days after it lodged strong diplomatic protests with India over Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit to the frontier state.
China had issued the second set of the standardised names of 15 places, along with their exact coordinates and a map on December 30, 2021. At that time as well, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that “invented names” did not change the fact that the state has been and always will be an integral part of India.