India-China Border Roads

India-China Border Roads (ICBR) project is a Government of India project which aims to develop the infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border by constructing "strategic roads".[1] Several entities are responsible for constructing ICBR, including Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which handles the bulk of the ICBR road construction work,[1] NHAI, MoDNER, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC), PWDs of respective states and others.[2] China, after significantly upgrading infrastructure in Tibet Autonomous Region with five airbases, an extensive rail network and more than 58,000-km of roads network, is also resorting to "a slow but steady cartographic aggression" to keep India under geo-strategic pressure.[3]

BRO is responsible for constructing 105 ICBR, including 73 ICBR roads in Phase-1 to be completed by December 2020 and 32 ICBR roads in Phase-2.[2][4] BRO is responsible for the road network of 32,000 km length, out of which 67% are assigned to ICBR roads.[1] Out of 73 ICBRs in Phase-1, less than 50% were complete by 2018, subsequently with additional funds the speed of construction increased.[5] Some of the important projects include the already completed Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) road and also the Atal Tunnel(Rhotang tunnel); and in the northeast the under construction Sela Tunnel and an under construction tunnel under the Brahmaputra river with Indian Railways.[5]


Strategic infastructure requirementsEdit

In the wake of heightened road and track construction work undertaken by China along India's Northern & Eastern Frontiers, India constituted a China Study Group (CSG) in 1997, to study the requirement of road communication, along the China border for brisk movement of troops in case of aggression. At the end of the study, the CSG identified network of 73 roads called India-China Border Roads (ICBR), to be developed along the Indo-China border. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 1999 approved the construction of these roads by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the Ministry of Defence. The project was to be completed by 2006 but the deadline was then extended to 2012. The Standing Committee on Defence, a body for legislative oversight, appraised strategic road connectivity in 2018. With regard to the slow pace of construction of border roads, the Border Roads Organisation stated to the committee:[6]

It would not be incorrect to say that few years back the philosophy of our nation was that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible. That philosophy is telling today very clearly as to why we do not have roads. It is only couple of years back that we suddenly decided a change of philosophy and said no, we must go as far forward as possible. It is going to take time. Unfortunately, the time cannot be compressed. Whatever we can do, it will take time.

— BRO, 15th Report, Standing Committee on Defence (2018-19)

Reasons such as climate, geography, land acquisition and natural disasters also accounted for the delays.[7] In 2013 the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government took multiple administrative decisions to speed up construction. The 2017 Doklam standoff was a wake up call for the Modi-government with related to border infrastructure along the China border.[7]

Requirement for strategic roadsEdit

Ministry of Defence submitted a total operational requirement of 852 roads of length 30118 km to the BRO. Out of this, border roads have been classified under the Long Term Roll on Works Plan (LTRoWP); that is 530 roads spanning 22803 km including 73 ICBRs. The work structure for the ICBRs is divided among different agencies. Out of the 73 ICBRs, BRO was responsible for 61 roads while the remaining to other departments such as the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC) and state public works departments.[6] ICBRs are present in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh has the most proposed ICBRs numbering 27.[6]

Funds were also diverted from "General Staff (GS) roads"[a] to ICBRs.[8]

ICBR project phasesEdit

Phase-1/ICBR IEdit

As of January 2020, the present revised target completion date for Phase-I is December 2020.[9] Of the 73 ICBR in Phase-1, 61 roads assigned to BRO and remaining 12 to CPWD.[10]

ICBR progress:

  • Phase-1 or ICBR-1 project started in 1999 with a target completion date of 2012 to construct 73 strategic ICBRs of nearly 4000 km length.[8][1]
  • Annual burdget: INR 11,800 crore in 2020-21, INR 8,050 crore in 2019-20, INR 6,700 crore in 2018-19, INR 5450 crore in 2017-18, INR 3,300 crore to INR 4,600 crore from 2008 to 2016.[10] Spending on Line of Actual Control (LAC) roads tripled between 2016 and 2020, from 4,600 crore (US$640 million) to 11,800 crore (US$1.7 billion).[11]
  • Number of roads completed: additional funds were released in 2018 with the aim to complete the road by December 2020, less than 50% (less than 36) roads were complete by March 2018, and only 30% (22 roads) were complete by March 2016.[2][5] Of the 61 roads assigned to BRO, nearly 75% (41) were complete by February 2019, another 11 on target to be completed by March 2020, remaining 9 by December 2020.[9]
  • Road length construction completed: 4,764 kms roads during 2014-20, and 3,610 kms during 2008-14.[10]
  • Road tunnels completed: 6 during 2014-20, 1 during 2008-14, 19 road tunnels are under planning stage in June 2020.[10]
  • Bridges completed: 14,450 metres length during 2014-20, 7,270 metres during 2008-14.[10]

Some of the important projects include the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) road and Rohtang tunnel in the Ladakh; and in the northeast the Sela Tunnel and a road and rail tunnel under the Brahmaputra river with Indian Railways.[5]

Phase-2/ICBR IIEdit

Phase 2 aims to construct 32 roads along the border.[4] In June 2020, amid the India-China skirmishes, the government asked all bodies to speed up the construction of the roads.[4] Additional labour was also sent to these areas to assist in speeding up construction.[4]

List of ICBRsEdit

Incomplete list of ICBRs as follows:[6]

Sr No Name of Road Phase State Length Bridges Completed Comments and citation
1 Orang- Kalaktang –Shergaon- Roopa- Tenga Assam/ Arunachal Pradesh 158 Kalaktang, Gajni, Shikari, Sher, Balemu, Bomnag, Haflong Yes [12]
2 Jang-Ramasapper Arunachal Pradesh 64 - [13]
3 Sangestar – Kharsangla I Arunachal Pradesh 16 - Yes [14]
4 Ghastoli- Rattakona Uttarakhand 18 - [15]
5 Nelong-Naga I Uttarakhand 8.10 - Yes Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector.
6 Naga-Sonam-Kumal I Uttarakhand 11.65 Jadganga River bridge Yes Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector. Nelang-Naga forks into 2, to Sonam and Jadhang IBTP BoP.
7 Naga-Jadhang I Uttarakhand 5.5 - Yes Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector.
8 Sumna-Rimkhim Uttarakhand 14 - Yes Bara Hoti sector.
9 LGG (Lungrom-GG)-Mukto-Teli Arunachal Pradesh 53 -
10 Tama Chung Chung (TCC)-Taksing I Arunachal Pradesh 54 - Yes [19]
11 TCC-Maza Arunachal Pradesh 47.38 - [20]
12 Yarlung-Lamang Arunachal Pradesh 18.58 - [21]
13 Tr Jn-Bheem Base-Dokala Sikkim 19.72 - [22][23]
14 Tato-Manigong-Tadagade Arunachal Pradesh 89.70 -
15 Joshimath-Malari Uttarakhand 62.67 Dhak, Tamak, Suraithota, Subaigadhera Yes (2016)[24] Bara Hoti disputed sector is 100 km from Joshimath. Joshimath-Malari road forks to 2 different ITBP posts at Malari, to Sumna-Rimkhim post in the east and another post to the west.
Ref:[25] ITBP has 42 BoPs (border outposts) in Bara Hoti sector and Mana Pass area (Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector).[26]
16 Malari-Girthidobla Uttarakhand - Yes (2016)[24] Bara Hoti disputed sector.
17 Girthidobla-Sumna Uttarakhand - Yes (2016)[24] Bara Hoto disputed sector.
Ref: [18]
18 Sumna-Rimkhim Uttarakhand - Yes (2016)[24] Bara Hoto disputed sector.
Ref: [18]
19 Musapani-Ghastoli Uttarakhand 9.52 -
20 Nacho-TCC Arunachal Pradesh 78.45 - [27]
21 LGG-Mukto-Teli Arunachal Pradesh 53 - [28]
22 Leh-Upshi-Sarchu Ladakh 249.62 -
23 Tawaghat-Ghatiabagarh Uttarakhand 19.51 - [29]
24 Bona -Gelling Arunachal Pradesh -
25 Harong - Chushul Ladakh -
26 Sasoma - Saserla Ladakh -
27 D-S-DBO I Ladakh Shyok Gang-I, Shyok Gang-II, Shyok Gang-II, Shyok-II Yes
28 Koyul – Photila – Chisumle - Zurasar Ladakh - [30]
29 Nemo-Padum-Darcha Himachal Pradesh/Ladakh - First all weather road to Ladakh. Third access route to Ladakh.[31][32][33]
30 Ghatiabagarh-Lipulekh Uttarakhand 80 - [34]
31 BJG-LGG Arunachal Pradesh 45 Tawangchu-II/ Tawangchu-III [35]
32 Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Arunachal Pradesh 334 - [36]
33 Gangtok- Chunghang Sikkim -
34 Khinzemane-Zemithang I Arunachal Pradesh - Yes [14][37]
35 Marsimikla-Hot Springs Ladakh - [30]
36 Phobrang-Marsimikla Ladakh - [30]
37 Mana-Mana Pass 56 km Uttrakhanda - Yes Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector.
38 Munsiyari-Milam Uttrakhanda - Yes Bara hoti sector.

Related geo-strategic projectsEdit

Geostrategic initiativesEdit

Border airport and ALG projectsEdit

Western Theater Command of China, area under integrated command.

Chinese Military has an integrated Western Theater Command across the whole LAC with India.[38] Indian Military has divided the LAC into 3 sectors - the western sector across Ladakh and the Chinese-held Aksai Chin, the central sector across Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand states, and the eastern sector across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh states.[39] Similarly, Indian Airforce has Prayagraj-based Western Air Command, Delhi-based Central Air Command, and Shillong-based Eastern Air Command to cover the LAC.

  • Uttrakhand has 350 km border with Tibet.[26]
    • Chinyalisaur Airport ALG serves disputed Bara Hoti and Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector. ITBP has 42 BoPs (border outposts) in Bara Hoti sector and Mana Pass area (Nelang-Pulam Sumda sector).[26]
    • Pithoragarh Airport ALG serves disputed Kalapani territory.

Border bridge projectsEdit

  • Teesta River road bridge in Sikkim, already completed in 2020 will serve Doklam sector.
  • Teesta River railway bridge, under construction in July 2020 and on target for completion by December 2020.[43]
  • New bridges on Brahmaputra River in Assam will serve Arunachal Pradesh in Eastern Sector.

Border railway projectsEdit

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified at least 15 new geostrategic rail lines to be constructed near China, Pakistan and Nepal border for the rapid and easier deployment of troops.[44] China has built lines up to Shigatse in Tibet, with plans to connect it to Nepal and further to India.[45] After these lines proposed by MoD in 2013, GoI approved the initial surveys of all 14 lines in 2014,[46] Some of these as well as other related projects are as follows:

Border road projectsEdit

  • Sikkim
    • Bagrakote-Gangtok Highway: 250km-long road originating from NH17 (NH31 as per old numbering) near Bagrakote in the Dooars to Gangtok is being upgraded to national highway standard in July 2020 by the National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited. It passes through Algarah-Lava-Rishyap(in West Bengal on Sikkim border)-Rhenock-Rorathang-Pakyong-Ranipool to Gangtok. In addition to the existing landslide-prone NH10 Sevoke-Gangtok Highway, this will provide the alternate access to state capital Gangtok and beyond to India China border.[43]

Border tunnel projectsEdit

As of June 2020, ICBRs included a total of 26 road tunnels, of which 7 were complete and 19 road tunnels were under planning stage.[10] As of November 2017, BRO was constructing 17 road tunnels of a total length of 100 km, on some of the 73 strategic roads on Sino-Indian border to provide the year-round all-weather rail and road surface connectivity. Some of these tunnels have dual road and rail usage. Presently, road access to high altitude posts on Sino-India border is closed for six months every year due to snowfall and rain, and supplies are through air lift only. These tunnels will reduce the travel time and operational costs, eliminate the risk of avalanche and landslide. Some of these tunnels are under construction while others are still in planning stage. List of tunnels, from west to east along India China border, is as follows:[48][49]

SN Sector Name State Length in km Operational Status/Comment
1 Eastern Zoji La Jammu and Kashmir N On Srinagar-Kargil-Leh NH1.
2 Eastern Lungalacha La Ladakh On Leh-Manali Highway.
3 Eastern Bara-lacha la Ladakh On Leh-Manali Highway.
4 Eastern Tanglang La Ladakh On Leh-Manali Highway.
5 Eastern Shingo La near Nimo Himachal Pradesh On Leh-Manali Highway.
6 Central Rohtang Tunnel Himachal Pradesh On Leh-Manali Highway.
7 Central Char Dham multiple rail/road tunnels Uttrakhand See Char Dham Rail and Road projects.
8 Western Theng Pass Sikkim 0.578 On NH310A between Chungthang and Tung in North Sikkim.
9 Western Nechipu Pass Arunachal Pradesh Near Bomdila and Sela Pass tunnels on NH13 Bogibeel Assam to Tawang.
10 Western Bomdila Arunachal Pradesh N Near Bomdila and Sela Pass tunnels on "NH13 Bogibeel-Tawang.
11 Western Sela Pass Arunachal Pradesh N Near Bomdila and Sela Pass tunnels on "NH13 Bogibeel-Tawang.

Sea ports and waterways projectsEdit

Sagarmala port development project and Waterways projects will also enhance geostrategic capabilities along LAC and elsewhere. Following waterway projects in Assam on Brahmaputra River and its tributaries are of geostrategic importance for the movement of military assets:

SN Sector Code Name State Length in km Operational Comment
1 Eastern NW2 Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of Brahmaputra River Assam 891 Y
2 Eastern NW6 Aai River Assam 121
3 Eastern NW16 Barak River Assam 121 Y
4 Eastern NW18 Beki River Assam 73 Y
5 Eastern NW30 Dihing River Assam 114 Y
6 Eastern NW31 Dhansiri River-Chathe River Assam 110 N
7 Eastern NW32 Dikhu River Assam 63 N
8 Eastern NW33 Doyans River Assam, Nagaland 61 N
9 Eastern NW57 Kopili River Assam 46 N
10 Eastern NW62 Lohit River Assam 100 N
11 Eastern NW82 Puthimari River Assam 72 N
12 Eastern NW95 Subansiri River Assam 111 N
13 Eastern NW38 Gangadhar River Assam, West Bengal 62

Under-river tunnelEdit

  1. Gohpur–Numaligarh under-river tunnel, is an under construction tunnel under the Brahmaputra river[50]


Northeast connectivity projectsEdit

See alsoEdit

Similar rail development
Similar roads development
Similar ports and river transport development
Similar air transport development


  1. ^ "GS roads ensure inter-valley and inter-sector movement along the LAC"


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