In a major push to enhance connectivity in sensitive areas close to the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh dedicated six major bridges to the nation through video conferencing on Thursday. These bridges of strategic importance were completed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in a record time.
The minister congratulated all ranks of BRO for completing the works of six bridges in record time and complimented them for contributing towards nation building by working in the most challenging terrain and weather conditions. He said that roads and bridges were the lifeline of any nation and played a vital role in the socio-economic development of far flung regions. Reiterating the Central Government’s commitment to prioritise development activities in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally monitoring the progress of these projects and adequate funds were being provided for their timely execution.
Singh said, “It is a pleasant experience to inaugurate these bridges that ‘connect people’, at a time when the world is insisting on keeping distance, being isolated from each other (due to COVID-19). I would like to congratulate BRO on completing this important task with great skill.” Complementing BRO, he remarked, “Continued construction of roads and bridges in the border areas of the country with total commitment by BRO would help in realisation of the efforts of the government to reach to the remotest areas. Roads are the lifeline of any nation.”
Roads in the border areas were not only strategic assets but also served to connect remote areas with the mainstream. In this manner, be it a strategic necessity for the armed forces or other development work related to health, education, trade, all these were possible only with connectivity, he added.
Thanking the people of Jammu & Kashmir for their cooperation, Singh said, “I am sure that the construction of modern roads and bridges will bring prosperity to the region. Our government is committed to promoting infrastructure on our borders and necessary resources will be provided for this. Our government has a keen interest in the development of Jammu & Kashmir. Keeping in mind the need of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and armed forces, many other development works are also in the pipeline, which will be announced in due time. About 1,000 km long roads are currently under construction in the Jammu region.”
Singh acknowledged that over the last two years, with the use of latest technologies and state-of-the-art equipment the BRO had done cutting of over 2,200 km about 4,200 km of roads surfacing and about 5,800 m of permanent bridges had been constructed.
He assured that sufficient resources would be provided to BRO for the construction of strategic roads despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridges Strategic to Armed Forces’ Movement
The six bridges were inaugurated in the presence of Minister of State (Independent Charge) and MoS Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space Dr. Jitendra Singh. Member of Parliament, Jammu Jugal Kishore Sharma was present on the site through video link.
The two bridges on the Tarnah Nallah in Kathua District and four bridges located on Akhnoor-Pallanwala road in Akhnoorin Jammu district have spans ranging from 30 to 300 m and were constructed at a total cost of Rs 430 million. These bridges constructed by Project Sampark of the BRO will facilitate movement of Armed Forces in this strategically important sector and will also contribute towards the overall economic growth of remote border areas.
There is a major surge in outcomes delivered by the BRO in the last few years. This is evident from the fact that BRO had executed about 30 per cent more works in FY2019-20 as compared to FY2018-19. This had happened because of adequate budgetary support from the government as well as structural reforms and dedicated efforts by BRO.
The annual budget of the BRO that varied from Rs 33 billion to Rs 46 billion in the FY2008-16, saw a substantial rise to Rs 80.5 billion in FY2019-20. With the government focused on improving infrastructure in border areas, the budget for FY2020-21 is likely to be Rs 118 billion. This will give a major boost to ongoing projects and will expedite the construction of strategic roads, bridges and tunnels along our northern borders.
Speaking on the occasion, Director General of BRO Lt Gen Harpal Singh underlined the contribution of BRO to nation building and thanked Raksha Mantri for his continued guidance and support while expressing confidence that the BRO shall continue to strive to meet targets in line with the overall national strategic objectives set forth by the government.
Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar, DG BRO Lt Gen Harpal Singh at Delhi and along with senior Army and Civil Administration officials on site were present on the occasion.