ITANAGAR, Nov 15 - Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today called for bolstering border infrastructure, stressing that national security is the topmost priority of the Government.
He was speaking after inaugurating the strategic Sisseri river bridge in Lower Dibang Valley district. The 200-metre-long bridge along the Jonai-Pasighat-Ranaghat-Roing road will provide connectivity between Dibang Valley and Siang to meet the long-standing demand of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. It will cut down the travel time from Pasighat to Roing by about five hours.
The Defence Minister said the Government has adopted the Border Area Development Programme (BADP), keeping in view security of the people residing in the border areas.
�Infrastructural upgradation is necessary for the security of the North East and the entire country,� a Defence release quoted Singh as saying.
Stating that the Centre has initiated numerous infrastructure projects in the frontier State, the Defence Minister listed out various projects including the proposed Bhalukpong-Tenga-Tawang railway line, operationalisation of the Pasighat airport, nod to the Hollongi airport and approval to construct the Sela tunnel.
Singh further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), keeping in mind the economic interests of the country, especially the North East.
�You must have seen that during the ASEAN summit in Bangkok recently, our PM took a very important decision that India will not be a part of RCEP� Farmers, labourers, factories and industries would have got affected had India joined the RCEP. This is a big decision,� he added.
The Union Defence Minister said that the Government�s focus on the Act East Policy would open new doors of rapid infrastructural development in the North East, especially Arunachal Pradesh.
He expressed confidence that just as the Sisseri river bridge would help the development of Lower Dibang Valley and East Siang, the strong infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh would also act as a bridge between India and the South East Asian countries.
Singh said that the Sisseri river bridge would play an important role in overall development, adding that it would open more avenues in the fields of employment, trade and tourism.
He also commended the BRO for constructing and maintaining roads and bridges in the border areas all over the country and meeting the strategic needs of the armed forces.
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Director General of Border Roads Lt General Harpal Singh and Arunachal East MP Tapir Gao.
Earlier in the day, the Union Defence Minister visited the forward areas at Bumla near Tawang along the Indo-China border.
�Visited the forward areas in Bumla near Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Also, had a wonderful interaction with the brave jawans and officers of the Indian Army. The Army is securing India�s frontiers even in the most challenging environment,� Singh tweeted.
�During my Bumla visit I have come to know that despite perceptional differences on the boundary issue both the Indian Army and the PLA have been sensible enough to reduce tensions on LAC. I congratulate the Indian Army for showing great maturity in all situations,� he added.