The Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared an ambitious project under which a highly secure communication network will be set up for the Indian Army in strategically key forward locations, including along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), at a cost of ?7,796 crore, officials said on Thursday.

The project will be rolled out by government-owned company ITI within three years, they said, adding that the contract for its implementation was signed with the telecom entity on Thursday.

The officials said the project will provide better “survivability, responsiveness and high bandwidth” in any operational scenario and enhance the communication coverage of the network in areas closer to forward areas, including along the LAC.

The project will also help provide secure network coverage in areas along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border with Pakistan, they said.

“In order to meet the long pending demand of the Indian Army, the Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the proposal for establishment of Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) Phase IV Network,” the defence ministry said.

It said the project would augment the communication network of the Indian Army in the sensitive forward operational areas which in turn will provide a major boost to the operational preparedness especially keeping in view the current situation at the LAC.

India and China are locked in a five-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained their ties. Both sides have held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.

“The project is also a big opportunity for the public sector to showcase its capability and provide an impetus to the Indian economy and will be a step in the direction of achieving the goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India),” the ministry said.

With approximately 80 per cent indigenous content, the project will provide a boost to the Indian industry, it said.

The ministry said the project will lead to upgradation of the existing ‘Asynchronous Transfer Mode Technology’ to Internet Protocol (IP)/ Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology.

“Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), Microwave Radio and Satellite will be used as communication media,” it said.

The ministry said the project would generate employment opportunities especially to the people in remote border areas and boost rural economy.

“The project involves execution of civil works, laying of OFC, tower construction, etc. And with utilisation of local resources, hiring of manpower, it would generate employment opportunities especially to the people in remote border areas, support and boost rural economy, assist in upliftment of the local economies, provide skill development during the prolonged period of execution and maintenance of the network,” the ministry said.