Facing attack over its China policy, government on Friday asserted in Parliament that capacities are rapidly being built along the Line of Actual Control and China "fears" India is trying to catch up with it which sometimes results in face-offs between the two armies.
Rubbishing reports that China had occupied 640 km of Indian land in Ladakh, Defence Minister A K Antony asserted in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha that no territory has been ceded to that country.
He conceded that China was "superior" in terms of border infrastructure as India, because of 1962 war, was late in deciding on building roads and other capabilities near the Line of Actual Control, which he described as a "collective failure".
Making statements in the two Houses, he said all steps are being taken to safeguard national security while seeking a peaceful solution to the long-pending boundary disputes between the two sides.
His statements came after Opposition parties and UPA ally Samajwadi Party targetted the government over its dealing with China despite repeated incursions and other provocative acts.
"I have no hesitation to say that China is in a better position than India in terms of border infrastructure. It is a mistake, it is all of us who are to be held collectively responsible for it. It is a historical legacy," Antony said.
After "years of neglect", he said India is fast developing capabilities near the China border, including building of roads, raising of two mountain Divisions, many new airfields and landing grounds.
"It is their fear that India is trying to catch up with them," he said answering questions over the reason for increased incursions by Chinese troops over the last few years.
Antony said, "Infrastructure is also coming up in disputed areas (along the LAC) also. Patrols are coming closer and as a result, we see there are incursions. They come and go, they come and go and sometimes, situations of face-off also take place. We feel we can go to the areas we feel are ours and they also do so.
"...If you compare overall, in the last ten years, our government has developed maximum infrastructure in those areas," he said.
The Defence Minister said it was a known fact that China is superior in terms of infrastructure development as they have built trains, roads and infrastructure there but after long years of indifference, India has also started developing its capabilities.
As part of infrastructure development project along the LAC, he said the Government "after 29 years, raised two Mountain Divisions, we raised many new airfields and landing grounds along with several other capabilities in the last few years. After the years of neglect, now I can say that we are moving fast."
His statement in Parliament came amidst attack by opposition BJP and UPA ally Samajwadi Party members in Lok Sabha, who said a high-level committee of the government had reported that China had occupied 640 sq km of Indian territory in Ladakh sector.
The members were not satisfied with Antony's statement in Lok Sabha and created uproar.
BJP members were on their feet, while SP members trooped into the Well, creating din which led Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House for an hour.
Antony said the National Security Advisory Board Chairman Shyam Saran had visited Ladakh from August 2 to 9 and submitted a report on the border infrastructure there.
"I would like to categorically state that Saran has not stated in his report that China has occupied, or has denied access to India to any part of Indian territory. I would like to assure the House that there is no question of India ceding to China any part of Indian territory," Antony said.
He said the Government has taken "all necessary measures to safeguard India's security and would continue to strengthen our capabilities in border areas to protect our national interest."
The report by Saran, Antony said, focuses on border infrastructure but also deals with several aspects relating to the region covering a broad spectrum of activities and requirements.
He said Saran's report also deals with requirement of air facilities in Ladakh region along with matters relating to land acquisition and environmental and wildlife clearances.
Asserting that there will no compromise on development of infrastructure along the border, Antony said the Government was also negotiating proposals for effective mechanisms to intervene immediately in case of situations of face-offs between the two armies.
He said India had lost its territory in Ladakh, Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh but that was a "legacy issue" and after that several governments have come and gone but the border issue with China has remained unresolved and special representatives of the two sides are discussing a possible peaceful solution for it.