Indian Army plans big show for China in Arunachal

– Gets over 200 hectares land along with China border
– Starts upgrading military air strips into full-fledged airports
– Plans establishing infantry, artillery, signals, aviation, intelligence           infrastructure on China border
– Gets huge funds from govt to enhance night combat capabilities
– Defense experts alarmed by move as Indian army top brass emerges as defiant     to Delhi

From Christina Palmer, Anjali Khosla & Ajay Mehta

NEW DELHI: While Indian Army Chief General Encounter Singh has stated that there was an acute peace and tranquility at India’s border with China, he has, on the other side, availed some 200 hectares of land in disputed Arunachal Pradesh state from India’s Environment Ministry to establish massive military infrastructure, most probably as part of preparing for some ‘ adventure’ with China in near future, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that an Environment Ministry panel has agreed to divert more than 200 hectares of forest land in Arunachal Pradesh for establishment of Indian Army’s infantry battalion, artillery regiment and its headquarters, a surveillance and target acquisition unit, a helipad besides constructing vital roads for speedy mobilization.

Indian Army Headquarters has been desperate to set up a Mountain Strike Corps in the area and also moved a tank brigade there recently. They are also keen to have a separate, all-weather road to ensure 24/7, uninterrupted access to the border. The forest advisory committee of the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in its decision, while recommending the diversion of the forest area, said that they have taken note of “the sense of urgency for these projects expressed at various levels of the central government.”

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the panel has recommended giving away around 203 hectare of forest land to Indian Army for “infrastructure development”. Of this, around 43 hectares area located at village Bana in Seppa of East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is for establishment of an infantry battalion, one artillery brigade headquarters, signal company, one artillery brigade and workshop, a medium regiment, a light regiment, a SATA (surveillance and target acquisition) along with logistic installations of a helipad, a classification and a grenade range. Another 160 hectare area that has been recommended by the forest advisory committee is in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh for construction of Tadadege-Henker road by Border Roads Task Force. Tadadege road is a vital line of communication for Indian troops deployed in forward areas in the Tadadege sector. The road passes through hilly mountainous terrain with thick forest growth and the area is “un-classed state forest.”

International defense observers are seeing this development with great concern in the backdrop of successive Indian Army Chiefs’ aggressive statements about China. Though the Chinese Defense Minister paid a high profile visit to China a couple of months back, the Indian army leadership has constantly been making highly aggressive statements about china and continued to blame Chinese troops of incursions in the area. The defense analysts are also concerned as they say that despite the fact the Indian government has been preaching peace and pretending to forge friendly ties with China, the Chinese army leadership, just recently conducted its largest ever war games with theme to hold meaningful war with China in Arunachal sector. They also say that since it has been established that the Indian army leadership is no more ready to be tamed by the government at New Delhi and has come crystal clearly defiant at a number of occasions in the recent part with regard to Delhi attempting to respond positively to Pakistan’s peace overtures, it is quite possible that at any stage, the Indian army top brass may opt to go for a limited or large scale engagement with Chinese troops in that particular area. These observers also attach a great importance to a very extravagant financial clearance, cleared by the Indian government for purchase of night vision tools for Indian army, costing over 2800 crore Indian rupees. The basic problem with the Indian army at the moment is that it is unable to fight a war in the night as its Armour and Artillery vision in the night is merely 20% while to fight a war with China in the mountainous region of Arunachal, Armour and Artillery the key mechanized columns of the Indian army.

The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that earlier, on April, 2nd, 20013, the Indian Defense Ministry approved a Rs 2,820 crore proposal to provide night-vision devices to the Army to enable its tanks and infantry combat vehicles to have capability to fight in both day and night conditions.

A meeting of the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defense Minister A K Antony also approved proposals to upgrade the 130 mm artillery guns of the Army along with amendments in procurement procedure to boost indigenization in defense production. Under the plans to do away with the night blindness of Army’s mechanized fleet including the Russian-origin T-90 and T-72 tanks and the BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV), around 5,000 thermal imaging sights would be procured from defense PSU Bharat Electronics limited, they said.

For the T-72, which are the main stay of the Indian Army, 2,000 pieces of TI sights would be procured for Rs 1,000 crore while 1,200 pieces would be bought for the T-90 Main Battle Tanks for Rs 960 crore. 1,780 pieces of TI sights would be inducted for the BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles for Rs 860 crore.

The Daily Mail’s investigations also reveal that earlier, in 2009, Indian upgraded six airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China to improve its capabilities to move troops there quickly, declaring these as Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs). The upgraded air strips included Daulat Beig Oldi, Fukche , Nyoma, Walong and Machuka.

Global defense experts also attach a great significance of this move by the Indian army leadership as a former Indian Army Chief had announced the Indian Army’ cold-start war doctrine, declaring that Indian army was in a position to eliminate China and Pakistan within hours even if India had to fight on the simultaneous fronts.