Villages, towns identified by security forces to get priority.
To ramp up infrastructure along the China border, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to spend 10% funds of a Centrally sponsored scheme only on border projects in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand and Sikkim.
The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been allocated ₹784 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal and the money is distributed to the border States and Union Territories (UTs) depending on various criteria such as the length of the international border and population. In 2019-20, ₹825 crore was granted for the scheme.
According to the new guidelines approved by Union Home Minister Amit Shah effective April 1, the projects for developing strategically important villages and towns in border areas that have been identified by the border guarding forces, will be given priority. Around ₹78.4 crore has been parked for projects in areas inhabited along the 3,488 km China border.
Construction of roads, bridges, culverts, primary schools, health infrastructure, playfields, irrigation works, mini-stadiums, indoor courts for basketball, badminton and table tennis can be undertaken within 10 km of the border from the BADP funds.
The BADP, initially started in 1980 for the western border, has over the years expanded to cover 396 blocks of 111 border districts in 16 States and two UTs.
The new BADP guidelines said, “10% of the total allocated funds will be additionally allocated to the States/UTs abutting Indo-China border [Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand] for taking up works/projects in the districts abutting Indo-China border.”
It said that 10% funds would be reserved as an incentive for the better performing States. Out of the remaining ₹638.2 crore, the northeastern States- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim would get –₹255.28 crore or 40% of the remaining 80% funds. Around ₹382.9 crore or 60% funds would be allocated to Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the guidelines said.
The creation of infrastructure “would help integrate these areas with the hinterland, create a positive perception of care by the country and encourage people to stay on in the border areas leading to safe and secure borders,” the MHA said.
Forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF), deployed along the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders; the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on the China border; the Sashastra Seema Bal along the Nepal border; and the Assam Rifles stationed along the Myanmar border would provide independent feedback on the projects in the blocks concerned and may be tasked to conduct social audit of the works, it stated.
No NGO or private institution could be hired for infrastructure related work, the guidelines said.
With inputs from The Hindu