New Delhi: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday (January 19) expressed concern over the increasing number of natural disasters in certain border states and Union Territories, suggesting a need for a detailed study to determine if any ‘enemy country’ is involved.
“Certain border States like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Union Territories like Ladakh have noticed an increase in the number of natural disasters in recent years. The Himalayas extend to other states as well, but such incidents are confined to certain states only, and we cannot ignore that.”
“Many experts believe that these natural disasters are an outcome of climate change. Climate change in the country is not just a weather-related phenomenon; the matter is related to national security. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken it very seriously and will seek help from friendly countries to study and rule out any involvement of any enemy country on this issue,” he said.
The defence minister made these comments during an event at Joshimath-Malari Road in Uttarakhand, where he inaugurated 35 infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation.
The 35 projects include 29 bridges and six roads. The border infrastructure projects will boost connectivity to the LAC and the Line of Control (LoC), thus facilitating swift military movement to the borders, the Indian Express reported.
His comments came against the backdrop of China ramping up border infrastructure along the nearly 3,500 kilometre-long LAC.
Rajnath Singh emphasised that the Modi government views border areas as an integral part of the mainstream, not merely a buffer zone. He highlighted ongoing efforts to develop mountainous infrastructure and strategically position troops on hill borders, ensuring the safety of residents and enhancing military capabilities against adversaries.
Expressing concern over significant migration from Uttarakhand’s border areas, the defence minister noted the prime minister and chief minister’s commitment to extending infrastructure development schemes to every individual.
He underscored the vital role of border residents, saying, “People living near the borders are no less than soldiers. If a soldier protects the country by wearing a uniform, the residents of border areas are serving the motherland in their own way,”
The event was organised on the Dhak Bridge, a 93-metre-long Class 70R bridge over Dhak Nallah that was inaugurated by Singh Friday.
“The Dhak Bridge assumes strategic importance as it will provide increased connectivity to the borders and enhance operational preparedness of the Armed Forces,” a defence ministry statement said, according to the newspaper. It added that it will also boost the socio-economic development of the region as it is the only road connecting villages from Joshimath to Niti Pass.
“This will not only promote tourism, but also generate more employment opportunities,” it added.
The remaining 34 projects include 38.25-km long Ragini-Ustad-Pharkian Gali Road in J&K which will provide all weather connectivity between the Valley’s Tangdhar and Keran sectors, the daily said.