India-China Border Roads

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India China Border Roads
ICBRs, ICB Roads
ICB roads Ladakh.png
ICB Roads in Uttarakhand.png
ICBR Roads in Arunachal Pradesh Phase 1.png
Highlights in red for Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh
Type of projectInfrastructure development
Current statusOngoing (Establishing connectivity and maintenance)
LocationArunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh
Approved1999
Length of roads
Phase 13,323 km (approved in 2005)
Phase 26,700 km (approved in 2020)
Total length10,023 km
Status
Phase 115% complete by 2012,[1] 20% complete by 2015[2] 46% complete and 95% connectivity established by 2021[3]
Phase 2Ongoing
Some stretches of road are in disputed territory

India-China Border Roads (ICBRs, ICB Roads) is a Government of India project for developing infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border by constructing strategic roads, including bridges and tunnels.[1][4][5] The ICBR project is largely in response to Chinese infrastructure development along the borderlands with India.[6][7]

As of May 2021, India is constructing at least 177 roads in two phases of over 10,023 km (6,228 mi) total length along its Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China under the "Border Infrastructure and Management Fund" (BIMF) of Ministry of Home Affairs. This includes 73 roads of 3,323 km (2,065 mi) length under ICBR-I (Phase-I) approved in 2005 and additional 104 roads of more than 6,700 km (4,200 mi) length under ICBR-II (Phase-II) approved in 2020.[8][9][10][11]

India has set up an inter-departmental "Empowered Committee" (EC) headed by the Ministry of Defence to expedite the issue resolution and timely completion of ICBR infrastructure after the delay in forest/wildlife clearance and land acquisition, rugged terrain, limited working season due to winter and rains, scarcity of construction material, etc. resulted in the missed deadlines in the past.[12] Some of the important already completed projects include the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie Road (DS-DBO) and Atal Tunnel under Rohtang Pass; and the under-construction important projects include the Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh and a road-cum-rail tunnel under the Brahmaputra river in Assam.[13]

Several entities are responsible for constructing ICBR, including Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which handles the bulk of the ICBR road construction work,[4] National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MoDNER), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), public works departments of respective states and others.[14] At least 67 per cent of the road network assigned to BRO falls under ICBR.[4]

By March 2021, of the 61 ICBR-I roads assigned to BRO, connectivity on 59 roads (3,205 km (1,991 mi)) or 95+ per cent of the total length had been achieved and among these 42 (1,530 km (950 mi)) have been black topped.[15][3]

About[edit]

Strategic infrastructure requirements[edit]

In the wake of heightened road and track construction work undertaken by China along India's northern and eastern frontiers, India constituted a China Study Group (CSG) in 1997, to study the requirement of road communication, along the China border for brisk movement of troops in the event of armed conflict. At the end of the study, the CSG identified a network of 73 roads, called the India-China Border Roads (ICBR), to be developed along the Indo-China border. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 1999 approved the construction of these roads by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the Ministry of Defence. The project was to be completed by 2006 but the deadline was then extended to 2012. The Standing Committee on Defence, a body for legislative oversight, appraised strategic road connectivity in 2018. With regard to the slow pace of construction of border roads, the Border Roads Organisation stated to the committee:[16]

It would not be incorrect to say that few years back the philosophy of our nation was that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible. That philosophy is telling today very clearly as to why we do not have roads. It is only couple of years back that we suddenly decided a change of philosophy and said no, we must go as far forward as possible. It is going to take time. Unfortunately, the time cannot be compressed. Whatever we can do, it will take time.

— BRO, 50th Report, Standing Committee on Defence (2018-19)

Reasons such as climate, geography, land acquisition and natural disasters also accounted for the delays.[17] In 2013 the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government took multiple administrative decisions to speed up construction. The 2017 Doklam standoff further raised the profile of the issue with the Modi government for border infrastructure along the China border.[17] ICBRs are present in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.[16]

Border Infrastructure Management Authority (BIMA)[edit]

In May 2022, Indian govt sources announced establishment of the Border Infrastructure Management Authority (BIMA) which is responsible for the integrated development of the border areas including road, rail, water, power, communications infrastructure, and the Vibrant Village Program for improvement of living conditions of natives in these areas to prevent their out-migration as the border villages are considered strategic assets.[18]

ICBR project phases[edit]

ICBR-I or Phase-1[edit]

Phase-1 or ICBR-1 project was conceived in 1999 with a target completion date of 2012 to construct 73 strategic ICBRs of nearly 4000 km length.[10][4] It was approved in 2005.[10] Of the 73 ICBR in Phase-1, the construction of 61 roads was assigned to BRO and remaining 12 to CPWD.[19] Of the 61 roads assigned to BRO, 12 roads of 1,064.14 km length in Ladakh, 5 roads of 116.99 km length in Himachal Pradesh, 14 roads of 355 km length in Uttarakhand, 3 roads of 61.98 km length in Sikkim, and 27 roads of 1,725.46 km length are in Arunachal Pradesh.[15] ICBR-I is seen as a successor of BRO's Project HIMANK which was initiated in 1985 for the construction of border roads in Ladakh.

As of March 2021, of the 61 ICBR-I roads assigned to BRO, connectivity on 59 roads of 3,205.16 km length have been achieved. Of these 61 roads where connectivity has been achieved, 42 roads of 1,530.38 km have been paved with the black top.[15]

ICBR-II or Phase-2[edit]

ICBR-II was approved in 2020-21 fiscal budget,[9] to construct additional 104 roads of more than 6,700 km length.[8][12] The proposal for the Phase 2 was first conceived in 2013 with the goal of constructing 32 roads along the border,[14] expanded version of which was approved in 2020 with inclusion of additional roads.[14][9] Amid the India-China skirmishes, the government asked all bodies to speed up the construction of the roads.[14] Additional labour was also sent to these areas to assist in speeding up construction.[14]

ICBR-II covers construction of several roads, 18 feet wide foot tracks and border out posts (BoPs) connecting several LAC patrol points (PP) and Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) points. As of 2021, in Arunachal Pradesh under the ICBR-II India is building 57 roads, 32 helipads, 47 BoPs, 12 staging camps for ITBP and many 18 ft tracks.[9]

BIMF funding and progress of construction[edit]

ICBR infrastructure is funded by the “Border Infrastructure and Management Fund" (BIMF) which provides funding for India's border infrastructures along Bangladesh, Pakistan and China borders.[9]

Spending on ICBR tripled between 2016 and 2020, from 4,600 crore (US$580 million) to 11,800 crore (US$1.5 billion).[20] Annual funding was as follows: INR 11,800 crore in 2020–21, INR 8,050 crore in 2019–20, INR 6,700 crore in 2018–19, INR 5450 crore in 2017–18, between INR 3,300 crore to INR 4,600 crore annually from 2008 to 2016.[19]

Due to significantly increased annual funding, the ICBR construction picked up pace after 2014:

  • Road length construction completed: 4,764 km roads during 2014-20 versus 3,610 km during 2008–14.[19]
  • Mountain formation-cutting completed: 470 km during 2017-20 versus 230 km during 2008–17.[19]
  • Surface-clearing completed: 380 km during 2017-20 versus 170 km roads during 2008–17.[19]
  • Bridges completed: 14,450 metres length during 2014-20 versus 7,270 metres during 2008–14.[19]
  • Road tunnels completed: 6 tunnels during 2014-20 including Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass in the Himachal Pradesh versus 1 tunnel during 2008–14.[19]

Funds were also diverted from "General Staff (GS) roads"[a] to ICBRs.[10]

Types of ICBRs[edit]

Of the 73 ICBR of 3812 km, 61 of 3323.57 km were assigned to BRO, which have been subdivided based on their usage type. China Study Group had identified roads vital for defending the whole LAC at national level. Ministry of Defence had identified sub-national level inter-state and regional roads vital for larger military logistics, which were assigned to CPWD and state PWDs. ITBP which mans the forward staging areas and frontier posts on the LAC had identified strategic roads to connect the individual posts to the main trunk and arterial roads. Other roads include connecting inter state and state level.[21] The work structure for the ICBRs is divided among different agencies including the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC) and state public works departments.[16]

List of ICB Roads[edit]

Phase 1[edit]

Phase-I consists of 3812 km roads.[1][16]

Key[edit]

  • Maplink: Interactive map with road.
  • OSM ID: Provides a link to road on OpenStreetMap (OSM) in the form of a relation.
  • Status: Status does not represent current state of the road.
  • Length: Present / planned
  • Comments and citation: Further information about the road including bridges and tunnels.

Arunachal Pradesh[edit]

ICB Roads in Arunachal Pradesh[1]

In Arunachal Pradesh the ICBR project, in coordination with other government programmes, has connected a number of border outposts and frontier areas to the national highway network such as Kharsang La, Taksing, Lamang, Gelling, Kibithu and Dichu.[22] Major road projects in Arunachal Pradesh include the 'Sela Pass project' which consists of the under construction Sela Tunnel.[23][16]

Representative list of ICB roads in Arunachal Pradesh
Route of road
Maplink/OSM ID
Interactive Map District Length Status Comments Ref
Assam - Arunachal Pradesh
Orang-Kalaktang-Shergaon-Roopa- Tenga (OKSRT)
Map
13649310
West Kameng 158 km (98 mi) Completed in 2016 It provides alternate access to eastern flank of National Highway 13 NH13-IN.svg which also goes to Tawang. Bridges at Kalaktang, Gajni, Shikari, Sher, Balemu, Bomnag, Haflong. [24]
Arunachal Pradesh
Tato-Manigong-Tadagade
Map
13651872
Shi Yomi 86 km (53 mi) Partially complete Tato is 47 km southwest of Mechuka, Manigong is 9 km west of Mechuka, Tadagade is 33 km from Manigong. [16]
Bona-Gelling
Map
13652936
Upper Siang 10 km (6.2 mi) Complete Gelling is last Indian post on LAC. Gelling lies northeast of Bona. This is an extension of the Tuting-Bona-Gelling road. [16]
Tame Chung Chung-Taksing
Map
13653063
Upper Subansiri 54 km (34 mi) Completed in 2017 The road from Nacho goes to Tame Chung Chung (TCC) at Gelensiniak. From there it diverges towards Taksing and Maja (also spelt Maza), both close to the border.

Work on TCC-Taksing started in 2000 but was completed in 2017.[25] The road TCC-Bidak was completed in 2018.[26][27]

[16]
Tame Chung Chung-Maja
Map
13660521
48 km (30 mi) Complete till Bidak [16]
Nacho-Tame Chung Chung
Map
13660549
78 km (48 mi) Partially complete [21]
Jang-Rama Sapper
Map
13651811
Tawang 90 km (56 mi) Completed in 2016 It provides access to Tawang and forms the northern/upper part of National Highway 13. NH13-IN.svg It was completed in 2016. It is a part of the unfinished Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road.[28] (Jang also spelt as Jung) [29]
Sangestar Tso-Kharsang La
Map
13664340
16 km (9.9 mi) Complete
Lake Shungtser at Tawang-3.jpg
It lies very close to and southeast of Bum La Pass, north of Tawang, east of Lumpo and it forms the part of Bum La Road. BRO ensure maintenances.[30] Image of Sangestar Tso.
[31][16]
Zemithang-Khinzemane
Map
13664456
25 km (16 mi) Complete The upper portion of the road is close to the Namka Chu river. [31][30]
Yarlung-Lamang Shi Yomi N/A N/A Lamang is last Indian outpost near Mechuka. Yarlung post is en-route Lamang. [32][33]

Uttarakhand[edit]

ICB Roads in Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand, the border most points of Pulam Sumda, Mana Pass, Niti Pass, Lapthal and Rimkhim, and Lipulekh have been connected.[22]

Representative list of ICB roads in Uttarakhand
Route of road
Maplink/OSM ID
Interactive Map District Length Status Comments Ref
Uttarakhand
Nelong-Naga-Jadhang/Sonam
Map
13667660
Uttarkashi 30 km (19 mi) Partially complete Nelang-Naga road forks into 2 roads, one each leading to Sonam[34][35] and Jadhang IBTP border outposts (BoPs). Jadganga River bridge is on this route. The fork toward Sonam continues to Pulam Sumda. This is also known as the Nelgang-Pulam Sumda road. [21]
Joshimath-Malari-Girthidobla-Sumna-Rimkhim
Map
13667486
Chamoli 105 km (65 mi) Partially complete Bara Hoti-Lapthal disputed sector is 100 km from Joshimath. Joshimath-Malari road forks to 2 different ITBP posts at Malari, to Sumna-Rimkhim post in the east and another post to the west. Bridges at Dhak, Tamak, Suraithota, Subaigadhera[36] ITBP has 42 BoPs (border outposts) in Bara Hoti sector and Mana Pass area.[37][38] [39][40]
Mana-Mana Pass
Map
13667703
48 km (30 mi) Complete
Mana Village, Badrinath, Uttarakhand, India.jpeg
Image of Mana village. Mana Pass is located on the ChinaIndia border.
[41]
Tawaghat-Ghatiabagarh-Lipulekh
Map
13667911
Pithoragarh 100 km (62 mi) Complete Lipulekh area and the pass, Kalapani territory, Kailash Mansarovar road. [42][43]
Munsiyari-Milam
Map
13667746
Partially complete Milam is the last village. [41]

Ladakh[edit]

ICB Roads in Ladakh

The forward most localities and border outposts of Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), Hotspring, Demchok and Zursar have been connected. Roads connectivity has reduced their reliance on air transport.[22]

Representative list of ICB roads in Ladakh
Route of road
Maplink/OSM ID
Interactive Map District Length Status Comments Ref
Ladakh
Harong-Chushul
Map
13671808
Leh 65 km (40 mi) Complete Part of the 240 km (150 mi) Spangmik-Tangtse-Harong-Chushul-Tsaga-Loma route on towards Nyoma. [16]
Phobrang-Marsimik La-Hot Springs
Map
13671836
70 km (43 mi) Complete Route from Lukung near Pangong Tso towards Hot Springs close to the LAC. [21][41]
Darbuk-Shyok-DBO
Map
13671859
255 km (158 mi) Complete Route is partially along the Shyok River and LAC. Also called the DS-DBO road or the Sub-Sector North Road.
Sasoma-Saser La
Map
13671925
55 km (34 mi) Partially complete
Sasser Pass, Nubra ca. 1857.jpg
The road will provide alternate connectivity to DBO in addition to existing DS-DBO road. Image of Sasser Pass.
Koyul-Photila-Chisumle-Zurasar
Map
13671950
120 km (75 mi) Complete Demchok sector. Zurasar is one of the last border posts in the area. [41]
Himachal Pradesh - Ladakh
Leh-Upshi-Sarchu
Map
333878
Leh 250 km (160 mi) Complete
Bajaj Chetak.jpg
Part of the 428 km (266 mi) Leh–Manali Highway.
Nimmu–Padum–Darcha Leh, Kargil, Lahaul and Spiti 285 km (177 mi) Partially complete
New Road Zanskar Sumdo Lahaul Oct20 D72 18201.jpg
First all weather road to Ladakh. Third access route to Ladakh.[44][45][46] Image represents a section below Zanskar Sumdo in Lahaul.

Sikkim[edit]

Route of road Interactive Map District Length Status Comments Ref
Sikkim
Gangtok- Chunghang Northeast Sikkim Complete
Tr Jn-Bheem Base-Dokala India-China-Bhutan Tri-junction 19.72 Complete [47][48][49]

Related geo-strategic projects[edit]

Geostrategic initiatives include the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

Border airport and ALG projects[edit]

Western Theater Command of China, area under integrated command.

The People's Liberation Army's Western Theater Command is responsible for the defense of China along the whole line of actual control with India.[50] The Indian Armed Forces has divided the LAC into 3 sectors - the western sector across Ladakh and the Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin, the central sector across Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, and the eastern sector across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.[51] Similarly, the Indian Airforce has the Prayagraj-based Central Air Command, Delhi-based Western Air Command, and Shillong-based Eastern Air Command to cover the LAC.

Border bridge projects[edit]

  • Teesta River road bridge in Sikkim, already completed in 2020 will serve Doklam sector.
  • Teesta River railway bridge, under construction in July 2020 and on target for completion by December 2020.[59]
  • New bridges on Brahmaputra River in Assam will serve Arunachal Pradesh in Eastern Sector.

Border railway projects[edit]

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified at least 15 new geostrategic rail lines to be constructed near the China, Pakistan and Nepal borders for troop deployments.[60] In comparison, China has built lines up to Shigatse in Tibet, with plans to connect it to Nepal and further to India.[61] After these lines were proposed by the ministry of defense in 2013, the Government of India approved the initial surveys of all 14 lines in 2014,[62] Some of these as well as other related projects are as follows:

Other border road projects[edit]

Border tunnel projects[edit]

As of June 2020, ICBRs included a total of 26 road tunnels, of which 7 were complete and 19 road tunnels were under planning stage.[19] As of November 2017, BRO was constructing 17 road tunnels of a total length of 100 km, on some of the 73 strategic roads on Sino-Indian border to provide the year-round all-weather rail and road surface connectivity. Some of these tunnels have dual road and rail usage. Presently, road access to high altitude posts on Sino-India border is closed for six months every year due to snowfall and rain, and supplies are through airlift only. These tunnels will reduce the travel time and operational costs, and eliminate the risk of avalanche and landslide. Some of these tunnels are under construction while others are still in planning stage. A list of tunnels, from west to east along the Indo-Chinese border, is as follows:[64][65] India is constructing 31 road tunnels, 20 in J&K and 11 in Ladakh, at the combined cost of INR1.4 lakh crore (~US$17.5 billion), this includes tunnels constructed by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).[66]

Name State Length (km) Operational Status/Comment
Zoji-la Tunnel Jammu and Kashmir 14.2 km N On Srinagar-Kargil-Leh NH1.
Lungalacha La Ladakh N On Leh-Manali Highway.[67][68]
Bara-lacha la N
Tanglang La N
Shingo La Tunnel Himachal Pradesh 4.25 km N
Rohtang Tunnel 9.02 km Y
Char Dham multiple rail/road tunnels Uttrakhand N Char Dham Railway, Char Dham Highway
Theng Tunnel Sikkim 0.578 km Y On NH310A between Chungthang and Tung in North Sikkim.
Nechipu Pass Arunachal Pradesh N Near Bomdila and Sela Pass tunnels on NH13 Bogibeel (Assam) to Tawang.
Bomdila N
Sela Tunnel 3 km N

Sea ports and waterways projects[edit]

Sagarmala port development project and the National Waterways projects will also enhance geostrategic capabilities along LAC and elsewhere. Waterway projects in Assam on Brahmaputra River and its tributaries are of geostrategic importance for the movement of military assets, these include National Waterway 2 and Subansiri River.

Under-river tunnel[edit]

Gohpur–Numaligarh under-river tunnel, is an under construction tunnel under the Brahmaputra river.[69]

Mobile and internet connectivity[edit]

In June 2020, it was announced that 54 villages in the Ladakh region; including the Demchok is among the 19 in Kargil, 11 in Zanskar and 7 in Nubra Valley; will receive mobile phone connectivity from Jio via the satellite connected towers under the Universal Service Obligation Funding (USOF) programme.[70]

Radars[edit]

Northeast connectivity projects[edit]

See also[edit]

India-China border infrastructure

Geostrategic
Similar rail development
Similar roads development
Similar ports and river transport development
Similar air transport development
General

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "GS roads ensure inter-valley and inter-sector movement along the LAC"

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]