Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced a scheme to strengthen infrastructure in villages along the border with China. The move comes in the backdrop of the lingering border standoff in eastern Ladakh and concerns in the security establishment over China setting up villages in several sectors close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Border villages with sparse population, limited connectivity and infrastructure often get left out from the development gains. Such villages on the northern border will be covered under the new Vibrant Villages Programme,” Sitharaman said during her budget speech.

“The activities will include construction of village infrastructure, housing, tourist centres, road connectivity, provisioning of decentralised renewable energy, direct to home access for Doordarshan and educational channels, ..

“Existing schemes will be converged. We will define their outcomes and monitor them on a constant basis,” she said.

The government has taken a series of measures in the last couple of years to boost border infrastructure.

Last October, then Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Manoj Pande told journalists that new villages have come up on the Chinese side of the border in certain areas and India has taken note of it in its operational strategy.

Lt Gen Pande took charge as Vice Chief of Army on Tuesday.

In a report in November, the US Department of Defence said China built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between its Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector of LAC.

Following the report, sources in India’s security establishment said the village is in a territory controlled by the Chinese military for nearly six decades.

In the wake of the eastern Ladakh standoff, India bolstered its overall military preparedness along the LAC in the Arunachal Pradesh sector as well.