BRO all set to fill the yawning gap at Sino-Indian border
By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. As Border Roads Organisation turned fifty five this year, there is something new and promising which catches the eye. It has stopped sailing with it’s feet on two boats- Ministry of defence and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The BRO which has been functioning under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence (MoD), gets it’s budget reflected in the Demands for Grants under from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) until year 2014-15. Accordingly, from the financial year 2015-16, the budget of BRO has also been shifted from MoRTH to MoD.
Vide Gazette Notification dated 9th January, 2015, all matters relating to Border Roads Development Board and Border RoadsOrganisation have been placed under Ministry of Defence in Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. In another development instruction has been issued for E-procurement in BRO for ensuring transparency.
A civil engineering institution responsible to provide civil (construction) engineering cover to the Armed Forces of India, during war and peace,BRO is the brain child of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It has till date constructed 28,342 km of formation cutting, 32,885 km of surfacing, 12,200 metres of permanent bridges and has undertake Rs 2039 crore (USD 436 Million) worth of permanent works. Over 75 percent of BRO’s road construction projects are in High Altitude Areas (HAAs). It is presently building 2,764 km of a total of 5,061 km road length in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh alone.
Government has identified 73 roads for development along the International Border with China. Of these 73 Indo-China BorderRoads (ICBRs), 61 roads of total length 3410 km have been entrusted to Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Certain norms have been relaxed for projects concerning national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations. Out of 61 ICBRs with BRO, 19 roads of length 625 Km has already been completed. The connectivity (formation work completed) has been achieved on 24 roads and the work is under progress on 16 roads, while works on 2 roads is yet to commence. Out of the remaining 42 ICBRs, the target set for completion for 40 ICBRs is 2018 and for 2 roads the completion is expected to go beyond 2018.
Measures have been taken to improve the work in BRO as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second pet project after Make in India is Make for India. The financial powers of ground executive have been enhanced for speedy sanction and execution of works. In order to introduce the latest art of technology being used by various developed countries the officers of BRO are being sent on training in various foreign countries. Inspection of works on roads is being carried out regularly by executives at Project, Task Force level and by Regional inspection teams to ensure the quality of works. In case of delay in completion of works Chief Engineer Projects are counselled to show greater diligence in the achievement of laid down targets.
An important reason why India is lagging far behind China with regard to roads and rail near the LAC is their very different perceptions of border infrastructure. Besides the very difficult terrain and hostile weather conditions in which roads in the Himalayas have to be built , problem is also due to the unrealistic deadlines set by the government. Challenges like land acquisition and environmental clearances delay the projects . Also forest and wildlife clearance, hard rock stretches, limited working season, difficulties in availability of construction material due to natural disaster such as flash floods earthquake , avalanches and snow create hindrances for BRO. The GREF (Ground Reserve Engineering Force)as it is also called, ensures restoration of damaged bridges in addition to road infrastructure .
The yawning gap in the quantity and quality of India and China’s infrastructure near the LAC has multiple and far reaching implications. This is why a rejuvenated , self sufficient , motivated and diligent Border Roads Organisation is the need of the hour.