India is reportedly planning to upgrade the infrastructure at its two island territories, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, amid China’s increased presence in the Indian Ocean.
The Chinese Navy has increased its presence in the region with ports in Myanmar, Pakistan and Iran.
This move is expected to ensure that there is no hinderance for navigation or a repetition of South China Sea in its territory.
The Hindustan Times reported that India plans to upgrade the airstrip at INS Kohassa in Andamans and at the Campbell strip in Nicobar into complete fighter bases.
It also intends to upgrade the Agatti airstrip in Lakshadweep for military operations. This is expected to secure the Bay of Bengal up to Malacca Straits and up to Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea.
A tri-service commander was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “The two island territories will be like the new aircraft carriers for India, extending the navy’s reach in the region far from the mainland.
“Both the islands sit on the busiest sea lanes of the world, with more than half the world trade going through this route.”
As per the officials, the upgrade of the infrastructure is urgent due to China’s efforts to urge Thailand to commence work on Thai Canal.
Some people have expressed concerns regarding the canal, which is promoted by the Belt and Road Initiative of China, stating that the canal could lead to long-term maritime security risks for India.
Last month, the Indian Navy expanded its deployment of frontline warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India had deployed its ships in the IOR amid border clashes with China in the Galwan Valley in June that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel.
In June, the Indian and Japanese navies reportedly conducted an exercise in the Indian Ocean amidst the border tensions in Ladakh.