Labourers from J’khand to lay roads on China border
NEW DELHI: The defence ministry has sought 11 special trains to move workers from Jharkhand to Jammu and Chandigarh from where they will be taken to areas close to the China border for building roads, three officials familiar with the matter aid on condition of anonymity.
The move comes even as Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball to eyeball at four locations along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
“There is no question of halting work on the road projects because of the standoff that could go on for weeks. The working season has begun and we cannot waste time,” said one of the officials cited above. He said some work has already started on the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie road in Ladakh.
A second official said 11,815 workers will be transported on the 11 trains, and then be ferried to border areas in Ladakh and J&K, HP and Uttarakhand, where the BRO is constructing important roads. The Union home ministry asked the railway ministry on May 22 to arrange the special trains from Jharkhand to Jammu and Chandigarh, said the second official. This person said Union home minister Amit Shah discussed the issue of workers with Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren on Thursday when he spoke to chief ministers about the next phase of India’s exit from the ongoing lockdown. “Most of the workers are from Dumka. The state government will let the Centre know when they can go and work in the border areas.” Home ministry officials said the trains will be operated as per the standard operating procedures on the movement of stranded workers during the lockdown. China has marshalled close to 5,000 soldiers and deployed tanks and artillery guns on its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh sector where India has also sent military reinforcements. HT on April 28 reported BRO’s plans to induct up to 40,000 workers to carry out the construction of key roads and tunnels in far-flung areas in the forward areas along the China border despite Covid-19.
“Infrastructure development along the border areas is an important requirement for both military and civilian purposes. Infrastructure building in our areas will continue as per the plan,” said Lt Gen SL Narasimhan (retd), a top China expert and a National Security Advisory Board member.