Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that he "was sure China will make a positive move" with regard to the military standoff in Sikkim and that a "solution" to the ongoing conflict would be arrived at "soon".
Singh's statement comes after China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) carried out live-fire drills last week using tanks and helicopters, state-run Global Times reported.
The daily quoted a report by the China Central Television (CCTV) as saying that "10 PLA units, including aviation units and armoured [sic] forces, participated in the drills" conducted by the Chinese army's Western Theater Command responsible for regions bordering India.
Highlighting the supposed importance of the drills, the Chinese daily quoted CCTV as saying that the exercise was carried out to lay the "ground for plateau warfare." A five-minute video aired on the channel reportedly showed "tanks firing at targets on hills, followed by helicopters firing missiles at ground targets." However, the location of the drills has not been mentioned.
The Global Times referred to newspaper Lianhe Zaobao quoting analysts as saying that the live-fire drills were meant to "strike awe in India" as both countries have been involved in a border conflict for over two months now. The standoff in Sikkim is believed to be the most serious border dispute between India and China for over three decades.
Lianhe Zaobao is a Chinese language newspaper based in Singapore and does not form a part of the Chinese mainstream media. The latest report by the Global Times comes after a similar report from July, which also said that the Chinese army had conducted live-fire drills in Tibet.
Chinese state media has been publishing rhetoric-laden articles and commentaries against India since the Doklam standoff began over two months ago on June 18 after the PLA accused Indian troops of prohibiting them to construct a road along the plateau. China has been demanding that India withdraw its troops from Doklam unconditionally for peace talks to take place.
However, India has said that it was only fair for both sides to withdraw troops for dialogue to take place. India fears that the road-building activity would allow Chinese troops to cut its access to the seven states in the Northeast.
Singh's statement also comes a few days after a video showed Indian and Chinese troops involved in unusual violence near the famous Pangong Lake in Ladakh. The incident, which took place on Independence Day, was downplayed by local army commanders of both countries. Meanwhile, the video showed soldiers punching, kicking and pelting stones at each other.
Centre wants to speed up construction of roads along China border
The Ministry of Defence has given additional administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for the speedy completion of projects. This comes after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) objected to the long delays in construction of 61 strategically important roads under the India-China Border Roads (ICBRs) project.
In a statement released on Sunday, the ministry said that it had delegated financial powers of up to Rs 100 crore to the BRO director general (DG) for the procurement of both indigenous and imported construction machinery and equipment. It added that it wanted to bring about transformational changes in the BRO to achieve results in accordance with the requirements of the Indian Army.
A chief engineer in the BRO can now give administrative approval for contracts of up to Rs 50 crore, the additional director general (ADG) can approve projects worth up to Rs 75 crore while the director general (DG) can approve projects worth up to Rs 100 crore.
The defence ministry has also given its approval to policy guidelines to allow the BROP to involve big construction companies to take up road projects on a turnkey basis.
"The Ministry of Defence has decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the BRO right up to the level of chief engineer and Task Force commander, so as to avoid delays on account of references between the chief engineer and Director General of BRO and also between the Director General and the ministry," the statement said.
Software is being developed to monitor the progress online to ensure accountability.