Antony admits superior infrastructure on the ''other side''

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Nathu La (Indo-China border), Dec 2 (UNI) Standing right at the 14,400 ft Nathu La border, Defence Minister A K Antony today conceded that the infrastructure on the other side of the border (Tibet Autonomous Region of China) was far superior to that on the Indian side of the border (Sikkim).

However, the Defence Minister advocated that ''We should not grumble about the development of infrastructure on the other side'' and stressed on faster development of infrastructural facilities in ''our area'' (Sikkim).

Speaking to reporters at Nathu La, he said, ''This should be done on a priority basis to cater not only to the needs of the Army, who serve in harsh terrains and inclement conditions, but also to the requirements of the people of the border state.'' Mr Antony visited the border early this morning where, despite bright sunshine, Nathu La recorded minus four degrees Celsius temperature combined with bone-chilling winds.

He was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor and Lt General K S Jamwal, GOC-in-charge of the Eastern Command.

Mr Antony was also briefed about the positions on the border outposts by Nathula brigade commander Brigadier S L Narsimhan, followed by a closed door meeting with senior officials.

Regarding the Nathu La border trade between the TAR and Sikkim, the Defence Minister described the reopening of the trade route as a ''good beginning in the relations of India and China.'' He added that it would benefit the local population in the long run.

He, however, said the transformation of Nathu La trade into full fledged trade was a gradual process and could take time.

Later, Mr Anthony visited the forward posts of North Sikkim before heading for New Delhi, ending his two-day visit to Sikkim.


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