Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh dedicated to the Nation 24 bridges and three roads, built by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in four States and two Union Territories, through a virtual event from New Delhi on December 28, 2021. Of the 24 bridges, nine are in Jammu & Kashmir; five each in Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh; three in Uttarakhand and one each in Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh. Of the three roads, two are in Ladakh and one is in West Bengal. The main highlight was the inauguration of India’s first indigenous Class 70 140-feet Double-Lane Modular Bridge, built at the height of 11,000 feet at Flag Hill Dokala, Sikkim and Chisumle-Demchok road at Umling La Pass at over 19,000 feet in Ladakh which also holds the Guinness World Record of world’s highest motorable road.
The projects e-inaugurated by Shri Rajnath Singh have been completed on important road axis and laterals along the Northern and Eastern borders of the country. Speaking on the occasion, he termed the inauguration as a reflection of the BRO’s commitment to the progress of border areas and exuded confidence that these construction works would go a long way in the development of a New India. He said, the road at Umling-La pass will enable faster movement of Armed Forces, boost tourism and ensure socio-economic development of the region. “Roads in border areas cater to the strategic needs and ensure equal participation of remote areas in the development of the nation,” he said, commending BRO for its perseverance in achieving the feat despite the challenges of sub-zero temperatures and high altitude.
The Raksha Mantri described the indigenous Double-Lane Modular Bridge as a shining example of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ and appreciated the fact that it has been developed at a much lower cost and can be dismantled, if need be. “It is an important milestone on the path to achieve ‘Make in India’ as envisioned by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. It is a symbol of the Government’s resolve to provide faster connectivity to border areas. It will also pave the way for the construction of more bridges in such areas,” he added.
The e-inauguration has taken the tally of infrastructure projects executed by BRO to a record 102 in a single working season, that too in the 75th year of India’s Independence. The BRO has completed the construction in a record timeframe, with state-of-the-art technology used in most of them. Earlier in June this year, Shri Rajnath Singh had dedicated to the Nation 12 roads and 63 bridges – totalling 75 projects – in 75th year of Independence under the aegis of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
Shri Rajnath Singh defined the construction of roads, highways, tunnels & bridges in border areas as pivotal to building a strong and prosperous Nation, saying that a country, which develops its own paths, shows the way to the world. He lauded the contribution of the BRO towards Nation building by continuously improving the socio-economic condition of the people of far-flung areas and helping the country achieve its security, communication and trade objectives. He made special mention of the recent milestones of the BRO, including Atal Tunnel, Kailash Mansarovar road, recent inauguration of 54 bridges and setting up of Centres of Excellence on ‘Road Safety’ & ‘Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, Air-fields’.
Reiterating the Government’s resolve of holistic development of the Nation, the Raksha Mantri said, keeping in view the security needs of the country, the Government has accorded top priority to infrastructure development in border areas, just as the focus has been on strengthening the interior parts. “We faced our adversary in the Northern sector recently with grit and determination. It could not have been possible without proper infrastructural development. The BRO has been fulfilling its duties with utmost dedication. Strong infrastructure in border areas is essential in today’s uncertain times as it strengthens strategic capabilities. As we move forward in the direction of strengthening our border infrastructure, we have to bolster our surveillance systems as well. Problems of infiltration, skirmishes, illegal trade and smuggling, etc often persist in border areas. In view of this, Government had started Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System sometime back,” he added.
Shri Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that with this accelerated pace of construction and development, the BRO will complete many more such projects in the times to come and help in achieving ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. He also remembered former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Defence Minister late Arun Jaitley for their vision to develop border areas and equip the BRO with necessary infrastructure. He said, the Government has taken a number of steps in the last six-seven years to strengthen the BRO, including increasing their budget by three to four times. The Raksha Mantri lauded the BRO for their initiatives aimed at the welfare of its personnel. These include a special drive to provide good quality housing, jackets & ration in high-altitude areas; increase in the wages of construction workers; better healthcare facilities and ensuring vaccination to the personnel. This shows the BRO’s responsibility towards the country and the government’s support towards the BRO, he added.
To boost tourism and facilitate the Armed Forces personnel in border areas, the Raksha Mantri announced setting up of ‘BRO Cafes’ at 75 places, as part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations. These Cafes will showcase the local traditions and facilities such as food, parking, sitting area, souvenir shops, medical inspection rooms and photo galleries. Praising the BRO for the initiative, Shri Rajnath Singh said, it will promote tourism & regional culture and improve the socio-economic condition of the local people by providing them with employment opportunities.
Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Science & Technology Dr Jitendra Singh; Chief of the Army Staff General M M Naravane; Director General Border Roads Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhry and senior officials of Ministry of Defence were present on the occasion. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Jairam Thakur, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Pushkar Singh Dhami, Minister of State, Ministry of Minority Affairs Shri John Barla, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Shri Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Shri R K Mathur, Minister of Roads and Bridges, Government of Sikkim Shri Samdup Lepcha, Member of Parliament Shri Tirath Singh Rawat, General-Officer-Commanding, Chinar Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey and BRO personnel attended the event virtually.