The Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a centrally-sponsored programme for 'vibrant villages' on the borders at a cost of ₹4,800 crore for the financial years 2022-23 to 2025-26.
The programme aims to comprehensively develop villages on the northern border, positively affecting the life of people living there, thus, helping reverse the outmigration from these villages and improving the security of the border.
The scheme will provide funds for development of essential infrastructure and creation of livelihood opportunities in 19 districts and 46 border blocks in four states and one Union territory along the northern land border of the country, which will help achieve inclusive growth. As many as 663 villages will be taken up in the first phase of the programme.
How the programme will work
The programme will identify and develop economic drivers based on local natural human and other resources of the border villages and development of growth centres on “Hub and Spoke Model” through promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill development and entrepreneurship.
This will leverage the tourism potential through promotion of local cultural, traditional knowledge and heritage and development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses on the concept of “One village-One product” through community based organisations, cooperatives, SHGs, and NGOs.
What the program aims to achieve
The key aims are connectivity with all weather roads, drinking water, 24x7 electricity with focus on solar and wind energy, mobile and internet connectivity, as well as a robust network of tourist centres, multi-purpose centres, and health and wellness centres.
As much as ₹2,500 crore of the total allocation of ₹48,000 crore will be used for the development of roads.
7 new border battalions
The cabinet has also cleared a proposal to hire 9,400 fresh troops for raising seven new border battalions apart from a new operational base for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The proposal was cleared during the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Information and Broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said.
The fresh manpower will be utilised for manning 47 new border posts and a dozen 'staging camps' or troops bases to be created along this frontier, largely in Arunachal Pradesh, which were sanctioned in 2020.
The battalions and the sector headquarter are expected to be put in place by 2025-26, Thakur said.
Shinkun La tunnel
The cabinet also gave the nod for the construction of a 4-km-long Shinkun La tunnel along with an approach road, to provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and the rest of the country. The tunnel is expected to be completed by December 2025, Thakur said, at a cost of ₹1,681 crore.
The construction of the tunnel will help boost investment in health, tourism and education sectors and will also help improve the supply chain during winter and enable smoother troops movement, the minister said.
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