NEW DELHI (TIP): The ponderous elephant will now try to catch up with the fleet-footed dragon. The Narendra Modi government has decided to fast-track clearances for roads and other military infrastructure projects along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, signalling that environmental clearances will not needlessly hamper national security objectives. “Construction of roads within 100-km of LAC will be given fast-track approvals under the new policy being formulated,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said after meeting defence secretary R K Mathur and other top officials on Junbe 12.
“Delays in defence projects were happening due to the case-to-case decision-making process. We are evolving policy-based solutions. The new policy will ensure faster clearances without compromising environmental issues,” he added. This comes soon after the environment ministry gave the green nod to two other crucial long-pending defence projects, the expansion of the strategic Karwar naval base in coastal Karnataka and installation of a radar station at Narcondam in the A&N Islands.
The defence establishment has for long identified delays in environmental clearances as one of the major stumbling blocks for India’s lumbering attempts to strategically counter China’s huge build-up of military infrastructure all along the LAC, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. Defence officials say the construction of around 80 roads, adding up to around 6,000-km, along the LAC as well as infrastructure build-up in about 5,000 acres of land in Arunachal and Assam for the new Army mountain strike corps and other formations being raised against China have been “on hold” due to lack of environmental nods.