A parliamentary panel has asked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to sharpen its focus on strategic projects and speed up the construction of the long-delayed India-China Border Roads (ICBR). It also questioned the quality of some of the border roads already constructed by the BRO, which comes under the defence ministry.
In a report tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the parliamentary standing committee on defence said several border roads, especially the ICBRs, which are important from a strategic perspective, were running way behind schedule.
The government had identified 73 roads measuring 3,812 km along the China border as “strategic roads” and the deadline for their completion was 2012.
“Out of these, 61 roads of length 3417.50 km have been entrusted to BRO. Of these, 28 roads of length 981 km are completed and work on the other roads are under progress and are in different stages of completion,” the report noted, stressing the need to speed up the projects.
As reported by HT on February 7, BRO has sharpened its focus on scaling up infrastructure along the China border and set a deadline of three years to complete all 61 strategic road projects along the northern frontier.
In the same report, BRO chief Lieutenant General Harpal Singh said it was unfair to calculate the progress made by taking into account the number of roads completed; the length of the roads completed was the industry standard of measuring progress, he added. BRO has deployed 67% of its 32,000-strong workforce along the Chinese border to speed up projects, he said.
The parliamentary panel raised questions about the quality of ICBRs, stressing that non-completion/faulty specifications of works had a serious bearing on the operational capability of the military in sensitive areas.
“Road work executed by the BRO did not adequately meet the user requirement. Even six roads which had been completed at a cost of Rs 164 crore were not fit for running of specialized vehicles/equipment due to limitations in execution of works,” it noted.
The panel said the roads served no purpose if they couldn’t support the movement of India’s fighting forces in all weather conditions, adding that quality of roads should not be compromised at any cost.
The panel underlined the need to complete important tunnels such as Rohtang, due in 2019, and the tunnel through Sela Pass, due in 2021.