India is gearing up to invest approximately $3.7 billion in fencing its 1,610-km (1,000-mile) porous border with Myanmar over the next decade, revealed a source familiar with the matter, according to Reuters. This move aims to combat smuggling and illegal activities.

Earlier this year, the Indian government announced its intention to erect the border fence and terminate a long-standing visa-free movement policy with Myanmar, known as Free Movement Regime, particularly affecting border citizens. The decision stems from concerns regarding national security and the preservation of the demographic balance in the northeastern region.

A government committee, in a recent development, has reportedly greenlit the cost for the fencing project, pending approval from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization, disclosed this information, as per the Reuters report.

Despite attempts to reach out for official comments, it was reported that the Prime Minister’s office and relevant ministries including home, finance, foreign affairs, and information and broadcasting remained silent.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has yet to respond to India’s fencing proposals. The turmoil in Myanmar following the military coup in 2021 has led to a significant influx of civilians and troops into Indian states, particularly those sharing ethnic and familial ties. This influx has sparked concerns in New Delhi about the potential spread of communal tensions into India.

Moreover, some government officials have attributed the porous border to exacerbating the volatile situation in Manipur, which shares its border with Myanmar. The state has witnessed ongoing violence between ethnic groups, with one group having ties to Myanmar’s Chin tribe.

The committee of senior Indian officials has also sanctioned the construction of parallel roads alongside the border fence and feeder roads spanning 1,700 km (1,050 miles) to connect military bases to the border, according to the source.

The cost of the fence and accompanying roads is estimated to be nearly 125 million rupees per km, surpassing the expense of the border fence constructed with Bangladesh in 2020, which cost 55 million rupees per km. The increased cost is attributed to the challenging hilly terrain and the integration of advanced technology to deter intrusion and corrosion, the source added.

MTNews Desk

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