Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said infrastructure development in the country's border areas in the last six years of the Narendra Modi government has been much more than in the previous 50 years.
Referring to airstrikes and the surgical strike by the defence forces, Shah said India is now giving a befitting reply to enemies rather than the past practice of just issuing a "diplomatic statement".
He was addressing people at the 'Simant Kshetra Vikasotsav-2020' at Dhordo village in Gujarat's Kutch district as part of the central government's Border Area Development Programme.
Sarpanchs (village heads) along with other elected representatives of Kutch, Banaskantha, and Patan districts, which share a land border with Pakistan, were present at the event.
Shah said the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to developing areas situated along the country's border.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (India's first Home minister) had stressed stopping migration and providing water, electricity to the border villages. But, after his death, the Congress government did not implement it, Shah said.
"But now, Modiji has taken up that task," he said.
As against just 170 km of roads in border areas undergoing resurfacing between 2008 and 2014, 480 km of roads underwent resurfacing between 2014 and 2020 under the Modi government, he said.
Shah further said compared to just one tunnel built near the border between 2008 and 2014, as many as six tunnels were already constructed between 2014 and 2020 and work has started for 19 others.
"These figures show our priority. We have allocated a budget of Rs 11,800 crore for the year 2020-21 for border area development.
"Infrastructure development carried out in these areas in the last six years under the Modi government is much more than what was done in the previous 50 years," he said.
The country cannot march ahead on the path of development without strengthening its internal security. It is necessary to stop the migration of people from border areas. To do so, those areas must be developed at par with cities, Shah said.
"Prime Minister Modiji has instructed us to give priority to such villages and implement government schemes in these areas before implementing them anywhere else," he said.
The main objective behind organising such programmes is to make sure that border areas get facilities like healthcare, education, and better connectivity at par with cities, he said.
"We strongly believe that unless a citizen living on the border is not aware (about security aspects), the country's borders are not secure," the Home Minister said.
"In the near future, we will organise programmes to connect people living near our borders with the country's security aspects and make them aware of their strategic importance," he said.
Such programmes would be held in other bordering areas across the country in the future and the prime minister himself would attend them, Shah said in his address.
Sarpanchs of 158 border villages along with other elected representatives of Kutch, Banaskantha and Patan districts were present during the event.
Shah hailed their role in securing India's land border, saying these elected representatives are as important as the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) or the Border Security Force (BSF).
The Union Home Minister informed the audience that he along with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will hold a high-level meeting in the evening at Bhuj with heads of various security agencies active in this region "to plug the holes and set up an effective monitoring system".
Before his address, Shah inaugurated an exhibition of stalls of various state and central government departments, agencies, and schemes, such as the Gujarat police, BSF, Rashtriya Raksha University, Statue of Unity and Tourism Department, among others.
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