With an aim to counter the Chinese territorial claims in Arunachal Pradesh and on the villages along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced the new ‘Vibrant Villages’ programme to develop and improve connectivity in border areas.
The move has been taken to counter the Chinese ‘model villages’ close to the LAC.
“Border villages with sparse population, limited connectivity and infrastructure often get left out from the development gains. Such villages on the northern border will be covered under the new Vibrant Villages Programme,” Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.
She further said that the programme will focus activities such as the construction of village infrastructure, concrete houses, tourist centres, better and accessible road connectivity, provisioning of renewable energy, DTH services of government owned Doordarshan and other educational channels along with generation of more livelihood.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also provides financial support to the border states under ‘Border Area Development Programme’. Now the existing schemes will be converged and the government will regularly monitor their outcomes.
The MHA allocation for border management has increased by nearly 43 per cent, from Rs 1,921.39 crore in the current fiscal to Rs 2,517.02 crore for 2022-23.
Reacting to the government proposal, the officials in the security set up said that the Chinese army is building integrated model villages which are an extension of cantonments near the LAC so that the military and civilian populations live there together.
There has been a significant rise in the development of such villages in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim’s eastern sector in recent years under Central government assistance. However, these villages are “largely isolated” and sometimes inhabitants prefer to migrate to the mainland due to rough weather conditions whereas the Chinese model villages have “all modern facilities”.
The sources also said that China always claims that civilian population live in those villages but it is learnt that the civilian residential complexes have been used by the People Liberation Army (PLA) personnel.
A recent report of the US Department of Defence, said “Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC), also touched upon the subject, stating that China has taken ‘incremental and tactical actions to press its claims at the LAC’ amid the ongoing diplomatic and military dialogues to reduce border tensions.”