The Indian Army will build a strategic 400-acre ammunition point at the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh to strengthen its defence.
Not willing to leave anything to chance when it comes to China, the army says the point near the line of actual control (LAC) will help forward troops in the sector.
The environment ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC) has okayed the diversion of around 1,400 acres (566.58 hectares) of forest land in the strategically important West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, close to the LAC.
Decks have been cleared for diversion of forest land as the army’s mountain division told FAC that “over the years, deployment of military formation and units in the sector has been constrained due to meagre defence land holdings”.
According to the army, “it’s an inescapable operation requirement to locate an ammunition point” in Sanglem village in West Kameng. The army need 2,800 acres but 1,400 acres have been okayed as part of Phase I.
The land sought for diversion is for establishing “an ammunition point and other infrastructure..., which is a strategic and operational necessity for the security of the nation”, the army has said.
The site inspection report says the project will have “significant adverse effect on the general ecosystem” as 46,000 trees would be axed and vast stretches of forest area would be cleared.
The army, however, clarified that “no feasible alternative site is available for the project”. Also, “not all trees shall be required to be felled” as roads and magazines will be built along least vegetated areas.
The army will try to keep the green belt intact for “better camouflage and concealment of ammunition point”. Only access roads and spots for magazines will be deforested, but under the supervision of a forest officer.
The FAC okayed the project with certain conditions. One is that compensatory afforestation will be carried out over degraded forest land twice the size of the area being diverted.
The environment ministry has the right to take the final call on the matter after going through the FAC’s recommendations. In all probability, the ministry will accept the proposal given the strategic importance of the project.
The army has also sought a green nod for diversion of another 482 hectares of forest land to build an ammunition sub depot (ASD) for storage in Assam’s Charduar reserve forest. The area is close to the roads/ foothills of Arunachal. The army has said it is an urgent operational requirement.