Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has dedicated to the nation 90 infrastructure projects of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), worth over Rs 2,900 crore, spread across 11 States/Union Territories. The projects were inaugurated by the Raksha Mantri at an event in Jammu on September 12, 2023. These include Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh; two airfields in West Bengal; two helipads; 22 roads and 63 bridges. Of these 90 projects, 36 are in Arunachal Pradesh; 26 in Ladakh; 11 in Jammu & Kashmir; five in Mizoram; three in Himachal Pradesh; two each in Sikkim, Uttarakhand & West Bengal and one each in Nagaland, Rajasthan and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The BRO has completed the construction of these strategically-important projects in record time; most of them in a single working season using state-of-the-art technology. In his address, the Raksha Mantri described the BRO as ‘bro (brother)’ of the Armed Forces, asserting that, through its infrastructure projects, BRO is not only securing India’s borders, but also playing a key role in the socio-economic development of the far-flung areas.
Shri Rajnath Singh credited the timely completion of these projects to the hard work & dedication of its personnel as well as the commitment of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. “Together with BRO, we are ensuring that the nation is secure and border areas are developed. Timely completion of infrastructure projects in far-flung areas has now become the new normal of New India,” he said.
The event was organised at Devak Bridge on Bishnah-Kaulpur-Phulpur Road, which was inaugurated by the Raksha Mantri. The state-of-the-art 422.9 meter long Class 70 RCC Devak bridge is of strategic importance as it will enhance the operational preparedness of the Armed Forces and boost socio-economic development of the region.
An important infrastructure project inaugurated by the Raksha Mantri was the 500-metre long Nechiphu Tunnel on Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh. This tunnel, along with the under construction Sela Tunnel, will provide all-weather connectivity to the strategic Tawang Region. It will be beneficial to the Armed Forces deployed in the region and the tourists visiting Tawang. Shri Rajnath Singh had laid the foundation stone of the tunnel in October 2020.
Bagdogra and Barrackpore Airfields
The revamped Bagdogra and Barrackpore Airfields in West Bengal were also dedicated to the nation. These airfields, reconstructed at a cost of over Rs 500 crore, will not only bolster the preparedness of the Indian Air Force (IAF), but also facilitate commercial flight operations in the region.
In addition, Shri Rajnath Singh virtually laid the foundation stone of Nyoma Airfield in Eastern Ladakh. This airfield, to be developed at a cost of approx. Rs 200 crore, will boost the air infrastructure in Ladakh and augment IAF’s capability along the Northern border. The Raksha Mantri exuded confidence that this airfield, which will be one of the world’s highest, would prove to be a game-changer for the Armed Forces.
The Raksha Mantri also expressed hope the BRO will soon set another unique record with the construction of Shinkun La Tunnel, the world’s highest tunnel at an altitude of 15,855 feet. The tunnel will connect Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal to the Zaskar Valley in Ladakh and provide all weather connectivity, he said, commending the BRO for developing infrastructure in border areas and making an invaluable contribution to the security of the nation.
Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised that infrastructure development in border areas is not only effective for national security, but also promotes connectivity with a neighboring country which functions with a spirit of co-operation with India. He pointed out that the BRO has constructed infrastructure projects in several countries such as Myanmar & Bhutan and helped in strengthening peace and cooperation with them.
Civil-military fusion: Need of the hour
The Raksha Mantri termed the working style and projects of the BRO as a shining example of civil-military fusion. “Civil-military fusion is the need of the hour, as the responsibility of the nation’s security lies not only with the soldiers but also with the civilians. The BRO is developing infrastructure for the security of the country by coordinating with the civil and military sectors. This collaboration will write a number of golden chapters in the field of border infrastructure,” he said. While Shri Rajnath Singh underlined the need to work together to protect India’s borders, he lauded the cooperation of state governments, despite ideological differences, towards securing national interests.
Shri Rajnath Singh also called upon the BRO to involve local bodies & the people by understanding their needs and taking inputs for the projects in border areas. “Your job is not only to connect one place with another. It is also to connect the hearts of the people with your actions. The constructions should represent the spirit of ‘for the people, of the people and by the people’,” he said.
Minimum environment degradation, maximum national security, maximum welfare
The Raksha Mantri appreciated the BRO for being conscious about its responsibilities towards the environment and using modern techniques & technologies for infrastructure development. He urged them to keep focusing on the developmental activities, while laying equal emphasis on environment protection. “Till now, we have worked with the mantra of ‘minimum investment, maximum value’. Now, we need to move forward with the mantra of ‘minimum environment degradation, maximum national security, maximum welfare’,” he said.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology and Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh, Member of Parliament, Jammu Shri Jugal Kishore Sharma, Director General, Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha were among those present on the occasion. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Pema Khandu joined the event virtually.
With today’s inauguration of 90 projects worth Rs 2,900 crore, a record 295 infrastructure projects of the BRO, at an overall cost of approx. Rs 8,000 crore, have been dedicated to the nation since 2021. In 2022, 103 projects worth approx. Rs 2,900 crore were inaugurated; while in 2021, 102 projects at a cost of over Rs 2,200 crore were dedicated to the nation.