The move comes a year after the army moved the proposal to beef up its infrastructure in the area.
Army Headquarters has been desperate to set up a Mountain Strike Corps in the area and also move a tank brigade there. They are also keen to have a separate, all-weather road to ensure better access to the border.
The decision gains significance as China has reportedly constructed an all-weather road for facilitating easy movement of its troops to the border. The forest advisory committee of the 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 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. The proposal for this link was included in the Border Road Development Board programme in 1984.
Tadadege road is a vital line of communication for local inhabitants as well as troops deployed in forward areas in the Tadadege sector. The road passes through hilly mountainous terrain with thick forest growth and the area is “unclassed state forest.”
Sources told dna that the, “the ministry of environment and forests has approved the panel’s recommendation regarding Indian Army’s infrastructure in village Bana. The proposals for the roads are also expected to be approved soon.”
One of the main reasons behind MoEF’s panel in giving a go-ahead so expeditiously is that the said area “does not form part of any protected area”.
“No rare or endangered species of flora and fauna have been reported to be found in the area. It was noted that the army infrastructure is in strategic area therefore it is site specific,” the committee observed.