In an attempt to bridge this gap, the central government had announced a 1,800 kilometer frontier highway project with an estimated cost of USD 6.5 million in 2014 proposed to be built between Tawang and Vijaynagar in the restive state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The project was to be monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, two years down the line, the plan remains in cold storage, triggering strong resentment by locals. According to official sources, the main reason behind the delay in starting the project is the Indian Army's skepticism.
The Directorate General of Military Organization (DGMO) has warned that border roads could become a liability in the event of a war with China. According to sources, the DGMO has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs saying "the proposal entails construction of roads and tunnels along a fresh alignment in close proximity 15-40 Kilometer of Line of Actual Control, which is not desirable."
Physical work on the project was proposed to be initiated by 2018. But the rigid stance of the Army is holding back any progress in documentation and formalities. The Indian Army continues to believe that underdevelopment of border areas would minimize the damage and prevent easy access to the Chinese Army in Indian territory.
Disagreeing with the objection raised by the Army, Dorjee Sona says, "We can't leave the border area undeveloped because it will create a lot of problems. Because people need to be happy and to make people happy we need to give them basic facilities and infrastructure."
India recently operationalized an upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) for the armed forces in Mechuka of Arunachal Pradesh last month but local administration is not happy with the idea that they will not be allowed to use the facility.
Dorjee says, "How government sees the border area from the defense-strategic way, we don't know. But, as people from the border area, we feel we also have equal rights to have access to basic facilities. Many representatives from the state met Minister of State for Home Affairs (Kiren Rijuju) and discussed the issues. Even he had the same opinion that the problems are there because the DGMO has some reservations regarding some of the strategic points (of the proposed highway)."
India and China fought a month long war in 1962. The war stopped after a ceasefire was declared. But, the border dispute continues to linger. China has developed high level infrastructure in border areas in Tibet to facilitate operations of its armed forces, but India has adopted the opposite tactic of leaving the area devoid of basic infrastructure as a deterrent to possible infiltration for Chinese forces.