GS Paper – 2: India and its Neighbourhood, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests
What is RALP?
- In military parlance, the RALP is an area in Arunachal Pradesh other than the Kameng area. Other than the Kameng area consisting of East and West Kameng districts, the rest of the State is referred to by the Army as the RALP.
- India has two road axis in the forested RALP area in Lohit and Siang and now efforts are underway to improve infrastructure all across.
What is the Issue?
- China is moving troops closer to the LAC in RALP and this fits into a similar pattern across the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- In addition to roads, there is the construction of tunnels, habitat and related facilities to support the troops.
- For instance, the construction of tunnels has been reported opposite the Subansiri area in recent months.
- The massive Chinese infrastructure development and troop build-up in the Rest of the Arunachal Pradesh (RALP) area is a matter of concern.
- There has been an increase in Chinese patrols in the RALP, especially in the Asaphila area, along with massive development of infrastructure.
- They come for patrols and make a mess of the area. They leave stuff behind; in some instances, they had left tents and spades.
Offensive Counter Strategy of Indian Army
- Last year, as the focus was on eastern Ladakh since the May stand-off, in addition to massive mobilisation and retasking of troops in Ladakh, the Army quietly reoriented troops in the eastern sector as well, against the backdrop of heightened Chinese activity across the LAC. Of the 3,488-km LAC, 1,346 km falls in the eastern sector.
- In the Tawang sector, the Indian Army has adopted offensive posturing by deploying its high-end guns, technologically updated surveillance system, air defence system among others.
- It has deployed M-777 ULHs, Bofors guns, L-90 air defence system, Pinaka rocket system, Smerch Multi barrel system, BrahMos among others.
India’s buildup in the Tawang sector
- India has also been strengthening its defences and adding offensive elements to its military posture in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh
- In the Tawang sector, there has been a significant push to expand infrastructure that enabled faster troops reorientation, which is a shortfall in the RALP area.
- The Army’s Engineering Task Forces have been employed.
- In terms of troops, till 2010, the Army had only one division tasked with looking after RALP.
- With increased Chinese presence, the Army has since moved additional troops to strengthen its position.
- The construction activity across the eastern sector has been synced to the changing weather patterns in the region.
- To keep the momentum on infrastructure development going and enable long-term planning, the Army has proposed a five-year roll-on infra development plan instead of the current two-year plan.
India’s Highway Building Project
- In order to enhance the road infrastructure, the BRO has been tasked to scale up the work. The detailed project reports for the Trans-Arunachal Highway has been finalised.
- The 2400-km-long highway will connect 16 districts of Arunachal Pradesh right from Tawang to Longding district in the state
- In a broader national effort, work is also underway on the 1,600-km Trans-Arunachal highway with the alignment running along the LAC up to the Myanmar border.
- The Army has significantly augmented its firepower in the Tawang sector as well as strengthened its surveillance capabilities to keep an eye on Chinese activities across the LAC.
What more need to be done?
- We need to do more in the area of ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).
- If the Chinese military continues with its deployment, the Indian Army too should maintain its presence on its side which should be as good as what the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has been doing.