The government has given its final go ahead to the Army for raising a corps along the China border which will include the deployment of 50,000 additional troops there at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore.
The 17 Corps, the latest and the 14th such formation of the Army, will be initially based at Ranchi in Jharkhand and after development of infrastructure, will be moved to Panagarh in West Bengal. This will be the first corps with strike elements to be deployed close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Defence Ministry has given the Government Sanction Letter (GSL) to the Army in this regard with complete details of the new formation to be raised and the funds sanctioned for the purpose, government sources said here.
The postings of the officers to the new formation have already started and its chief will be chosen from the fresh batch of Major Generals who have faced a promotion board recently to be elevated to the rank of Lieutenant General, they said.
The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had cleared the proposal for raising the corps in its meeting on July 17.
As part of the plans, the new corps will see the raising of two divisions in Bihar and Assam with their units in Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the north eastern region.
The sources said the IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six each of midair refuelling tankers and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh.
The Army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the government which asked the three Services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region.
The Army will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions along with it to be deployed in the north eastern region.
The existing Strike Corps in the force include the 1, 2 and 21 Corps are all based close to the Pakistan border and are mainly armed to fight a land battle unlike the new corps which will mainly focus on mountain warfare.
The Army will raise the troops and formations as per its plans in the next seven years. The force has been taking a number of steps to strengthen its defences along the China border and already raised two divisions there in the recent past.
The force is also planning to procure ultra-light howitzers, light tanks and helicopters to be deployed along the LAC to strengthen Indian positions there against the backdrop of the major military infrastructure modernisation on the Chinese side, the sources said.
The Army and the IAF have also plans of deploying ballistic and cruise missile units in the north eastern region and have also activated several helipads and air fields for its aircraft and choppers to operate in the north eastern sector.