shah arunachal

Itanagar, April 09: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Kibithoo, a strategically important village near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh, on April 10-11. During his visit, Shah will launch the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP), aimed at the comprehensive development of villages at the India-China border.

The VVP aims to develop villages in 46 border blocks of 19 districts in four states and one Union territory that abut the northern border. The programme was announced against the backdrop of the Chinese setting up model villages along borders with India and Bhutan.

A fund of ₹4,800 crores has been allocated for the programme for the Financial Year 2022-23 to 2025-26. In the first phase, 662 villages have been identified for priority coverage, which includes 455 villages in Arunachal Pradesh.

The focus areas of intervention identified for the development of villages include road connectivity, drinking water, electricity, mobile and internet connectivity, tourist centers, multi-purpose centers, healthcare infrastructure, and wellness centers.

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This visit comes against the backdrop of China renaming 11 places, including mountain peaks, rivers, and residential areas in Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as South Tibet, further straining the bilateral ties between the two countries.

The Indian government has strongly rejected China’s move, saying Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. This was the third time China has unilaterally renamed places in Arunachal Pradesh, after changing the names of six locations in April 2017 and 15 more locations in December 2021.

The VVP aims to improve the quality of life of people living in identified border villages and encourage people to stay in their native locations, thereby reversing outmigration from these villages and adding to the security of the border.

A senior official familiar with the contours of VVP, who asked not to be named, said, “Apart from developing infrastructure in a focused manner in border villages by building roads, mobile towers, banks, etc, it will motivate people to continue to stay there because otherwise, a large number of people will move out of these villages”. “It will also help to gather intelligence from the people of border villages,” he added.

During his visit, Shah is expected to interact with locals and jawans deployed at the Kibithoo border outpost, which looks out over Chinese deployment in the Rima-Tatu area across the LAC.

The visit comes amid the tense border standoff between India and China. The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a border dispute since May 2020. The two sides have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the issue, but a breakthrough is yet to be achieved.