New Delhi is looking to assert its influence on its 2167-mile-long border with China. To do this, the government is planning to develop the region as a major tourist zone. The government expects that this will reduce the massive migration that the region experiences and will encourage more and more people to settle in these villages that are near the Indo-China border.
It plans to improve connectivity through helicopter services and civilian flights. The defence ministry has already allowed airlines to use Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) that are capable of landing aircrafts. The primary focus although is to intensify connectivity through helicopters.
“We have increased the viability gap funding for helicopters. The way their flight time is calculated has also been made more realistic. We expect this to lead to improved connectivity in priority areas of Jammu and Kashmir, northeast India, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep,”said aviation secretary, RN Choubey.
It is expected that helicopter operators and airlines will get at least 36ALGs in different parts from Himachal Pradesh to Arunachal Pradesh.
“Helicopter does not require large infrastructure for landing. That is why this will cater to a large population in hilly areas at very low costs. We have estimated that the number of operational helicopters will go up to ten times from current operability of 200 in India,”said Jayant Sinha.
He went on to say, “The confidence measures signed between India and China in 1993 and 1996, including the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement of 2013, are silent on defining the usage of airfields by civilian aircraft. We do not need permission from anybody (China).”
This move is extremely significant in countering China’s aggression. By bringing in more people in the border region, China’s subtle moves to expand territory by taking up road construction can also be kept a check on. Plus with such a wide and elaborate network of ALGs and other connective measures, the armed forces stand to benefit as they can swiftly transport troops and weapons. Also, such a move sends a strong signal to China that India is keen on raising its influence in a region that has long seen utter ignorance from central governments for long.