It was not long ago when one of the leading Indian magazine revealed that insurgency in North East is getting Chinese support. A recent development on border area with China is even graver. In its “long term railway network plan” Chinese Railway Ministry is all set to extend its network till Chumbi valley area very close to Sikkim.
This proposed path is a recent addition to China’s existing plans of constructing a railway line from Lhasa to Zangmu on the Nepal border. It is the same place where the Chinese are building a hydel project on River Brahmaputra. From there it will reach till Katmandu, capital of Nepal.
As per reported by the Indian Express that another line will branch out midway from this link to Zangmu, at a place called Shigatse. This line will move east and go right up to Yadong, on the mouth of the Chumbi Valley. This town is connected to Sikkim through the Nathu La pass and is strategically located on the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.
There are areas near Yadong which are still disputed between China and Bhutan. The area witnessed military conflict in 1962 as part of the Indian effort to defend Nathu La.
The expected time of completion of this project is set to be 2017. Once this line is fully put in place the Indian cities like Siliguri would be just 500km away from China. The proposed corridor will not only help China to get connected with Indian market but also to mobilize army in the time of need.
A serious concern for India is that China is taking a giant leaps to develop infrastructure in its western borders. Whereas India is still in slumber pretending all is well on its border. When compared to the Chinese, India has done very little to develop its borders in North East.
In mid 2009 Government decide to kickstart its own mega infrastructure expansion by extending the country’s rail link to Sikkim. Under the ambitious scheme, Sivoke in West Bengal is to be connected to Rangpo in Sikkim. In the second phase the plan is to connect Rangpo to state capital Gangtok. But it seems that this project also buried down in the piles of files.
China’s affairs are not confined to its boundaries. Very soon they would be connecting Kumming to Singapore. Various projects are making progress in Srilanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, all neighbouring countries of India. On the other hand the proposed Bhutan India rail link is yet waiting to see dawn. It is beyond any doubt that India is far behind than China in its developments of border areas. The question is whether there is any political will to counter China’s herculean efforts.
These things will do no good to India. The leverage that India used to hold over China on its neighbor is loosening up. The investment hungry neighbour’s will shift their loyalty to one who pours in cash in their developmental projects. Certainly India is not the one.
It is not only about neigbours. It is about India’s very own people. People in North East do deserve to live in better conditions. Better connectivity will not only serve India’s own interest but also develop these regions economically and emotionally with rest parts of the country. Delhi is not India. We need to give up this notion that if Delhi survives India survives. In fact it is other way round. If Border States survive Delhi will survive.
The Chinese Riddle