New Delhi: Apparently with China in mind, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the government is taking all steps to create matching infrastructure on the Indian side to realise its military potential.
Noting that "our immediate neighbours have already enhanced infrastructure in proximity to the borders", he said the government has initiated several steps to overcome road blocks such as procedural delays, environmental clearance and shortage of high-technology equipment to hasten the process of building roads in these critical areas.
Addressing the first meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry after the new government came to power, Jaitley said, "Based on the strategic reality of our neighbourhood, the government is taking all steps to create matching infrastructure on our side to realise our military potential."
As far as India-China border roads are concerned, the government has initiated building of 73 roads with a total length 3,812 kms for development, a statement released by the Ministry of Defence said.
Out of this, 61 have been entrusted to Border Roads Organisation (BRO), totalling 3410 kms. BRO has completed 590 kms on 17 roads.
Work on the balance roads structures are under progress and in different stages of completion.
The army has prioritised 22 roads structuring upto 3000 kms for development.
The works on these roads have been taken up by BRO and are being intensively monitored by the Ministry for early completion, the statement said.
Giving details, Director General Border Roads Lt Gen A T Parnaik said that the completion of roads has been affected due to various reasons.
These include delays in obtaining forest/wildlife clearance, difficult terrain conditions, hard road structures, limited working period in a year due to extreme weather conditions, paucity of construction material and challenges posed by natural disasters like flash floods in Leh in 2010, earthquake in Sikkim in 2011, Uttarakhand floods in 2013 and Jammu and Kashmir floods this year.
Lt Gen Parnaik said efforts have been made to overcome the factors coming in the way through greater coordination with Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) , modernisation of BRO and induction of more units and resources.
Jaitley thanked MoEF for easing environmental clearances which has helped in progress of road construction.
He complimented BRO for their work in restoring road links during the recent floods in J&K. "BRO has been an effective initial responder in disaster management," he said.
Taking part in the discussion, Members of Parliament belonging to various political parties highlighted the yeoman service provided by BRO to the nation since its inception in 1960, the release said.
They were, however, critical about the delay in completion of projects so crucial for the safety and security of the country.
They were also unanimous in their opinion that BRO should be spared of any budget cuts in the event of austerity measures.
Some members wanted that BRO should undergo a "transformational change" to convert it into a highly efficient organisation.
Members of Parliament who attended the meeting included Mallikarjun Kharge, Choudhary Babu Lal, Vijay Sampla, Raj Kumar Singh, Saugata Roy, Rajeeve Chandrasekhar, Mahendra Prasad, TK Rangarajan and HK Dua.
Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, Defence Secretary R K Mathur, Secretary, Defence Production G Mohan Kumar, Secretary, Defence Finance Vandana Srivastava also attended the meeting.