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The border areas of the country have remained isolated from the mainstream developmental debates all these years. Difficult terrain, poor connectivity via road and/or rail, absence of educational institutions, hospitals and other basic facilities, tends to keep the border areas (land and coastal) inaccessible and underdeveloped. The resulting lack of economic opportunities makes the border population more susceptible to outward migration in search of better employment prospects and a greater standard of living. Some of these areas have also had security challenges, and thus, more needs to be done for the holistic development of the regions and the inhabitants of such areas.

The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) remains a flagship initiative to address the aforementioned. The centrally sponsored scheme was launched in 1986-87 for balanced development of border areas of the Indian states[1] sharing international borders with our neighbours. The border states receive funds in the form of non-lapsable central assistance for the implementation of infrastructure, livelihood, educational, health and agricultural interventions required to focus on people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international borders. However, despite its strong implementation and repeated revisions, the social development outcomes from the project remain suboptimal. The problem areas, as highlighted by a NITI Aayog study, are the lacking social infrastructural provisions, and opportunities for women and youth. The study further highlights the challenges in the north-eastern states of the country given their relative seclusion from the rest of the states.  

Budget 2022-2023 actively addresses these issues in border regions of the country. The proposed PM Dev-INE aims at funding infrastructure and connectivity in the north-eastern states in the spirit of the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan. Furthermore, it would cater to the felt needs of the residents through various social developmental activities, undertaken to improve the livelihood opportunities for women and youth.  

Moreover, the Vibrant Villages Programme announced by the Finance Minister would be focused on aiding the northern border villages through efforts that build village infrastructure including housing and tourist hubs. Additionally, access to DTH and educational TV channels have been provided to boost the skills of the youth and further equip them for relevant livelihood generation. Additional focus has been given to establishing post offices as well as banking solutions and financial inclusion to the people residing in these regions. This is envisaged to initiate ease of living for the individuals and discourage outward migration from these areas.  

Therefore, the initiatives focused on volatile regions of the country, along with the significant boost to infrastructure and job creation, in collaboration, will contribute extensively in enhancing the inclusion of these regions in mainstream policy decisions.  

This article was authored by Srijata Deb


[1] These include: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat