BRO asked to move out of Naxal-infested states

The BRO have been asked move out of the NH-16 project in Naxal-infested states.

Updated: May 05, 2010, 17:36 PM IST

New Delhi: The Border Roads Organisation
(BRO) have been asked move out of the National Highway-16
project in Naxal-infested Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and
Chattisgarh on "as is where is basis" by March next year.

The BRO, a defence institution, will hand over the 200-km
work it was tasked to complete to respective state governments
and move on to strategically more important project along the
borders with Pakistan and China, BRO`s Director General Lt Gen
M C Badani told reporters here today on the occasion of his
organisation`s golden jubilee celebrations.

"The Hirak project (involving NH-16 road construction) is
a special task force (project). It is not a normal project and
was raised as a truncated project to work without too many
manpower in the headquarters," Badani said.

"Hirak will be handing over this national highway to the
three state governments and moving out to strategically
important areas which we have to undertake within a particular
probable date of completion. The directions, which were given
as per the government is concerned, by March 31 (next year)
the project will be handing over the entire road to the three
state governments on `as is where is` basis," he said.

The Nagpur-based Hirak project was tasked to complete a
200-km stretch of the highway passing through Dantewada in
Chattisgarh where Maoists massacred 76 CRPF jawans last month.

The BRO, the premier institution to build roads, bridges
and tunnels in difficult border terrain of the country, has so
far constructed 92-km stretch of the highway.

It is currently working on a 40-km stretch of the highway
in which three important bridges are incomplete.

"I have moved a proposal that we be allowed to complete
the bridges before we transfer the manpower to other
strategically important project in the borders. The remaining
stretch would be taken care of by the respective state
governments," Badani said.

Of the NH-16 stretch the BRO as tasked to construct, 68
kms would be left incomplete while it is handed over to
Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Admitting that Naxals was a major problem in the area
through which NH-16 runs, the BRO DG said the problem existed
even before his organisation was deployed there, but steps had
been taken to tackle the threat both through BRO`s own
security personnel from the Territorial Army and on and off
through state police personnel.

Badani said the Hirak project task force would hand over
the NH-16 works through a "clean methodology" and shift its
personnel out of there keeping in view the overall strength
required for the highway and other strategically important
projects along the borders.

He said there could be no criticism of BRO for moving out
of the NH-16 work, as "everybody concerned" knew the reasons
for it doing so.

Badani was replying to a query on what he had to say
regarding the reported criticism of the BRO`s decision by
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh yesterday.

He said there was no delay on the BRO`s part in
completing the highway work and that his organisation had got
considerable support from the local population, as the project
had generated employment for the people in the areas through
which the road passes.

"The Naxalite problem has not affected us much because we
are getting support of the local population. They (Naxals)
have come once or twice and burnt down our equipment. But we
immediately redeploy," he said.

He said the BRO was moving its manpower from Hirak
project to projects in Sikkim and other areas along the border
with China.

Asked about the Indian border roads not being anywhere
near the Army border posts though China had its road
infrastructure right up to the border positions, the BRO chief
said, "ours (roads) will also go up to the borders if required
and as per the planning. Nobody is preventing it. Plans are
there and it will be completed."

He said the border road projects of India had no relation
to what Chinese had on their side. "The idea behind the
strategic roads in the borders is to assist the Army in moving
its personnel and equipment nearer to their posts and to
connect border, remote villages with the rest of the country,"
he added.

Badani said the BRO was also working on seven airfield
maintenance projects at Srinagar, Avantipur, Leh, Thoise and
Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir, Yangphula in Arunachal Pradesh
and Paro in Bhutan.

The Paro project was taken up after the BRO completed its
airfield construction project at Aini in Tajikistan where it
had carried out all work of the airbase including their
electrical fittings, runways, apron and taxiway a few years
ago, he added.

Badani said the BRO faced a major challenge in moving its
equipment and men to remote areas and had to depend on IAF
helicopters to lift them.

However, the IAF was unable to meet its requirements due
to their own deployments and tasks, resulting in the BRO
looking at Pawanhans to lease out three to five Mi-17 medium
lift helicopters.

The other challenge, he said, was land acquisition for
road projects, which was a long, difficult procedure due to
environment, wildlife and ecological concerns.

"But of the 60 to 70 roads, only in the case of eight of
them we are yet to complete land acquisition," he added.

He said the BRO was also working on resurfacing and
maintenance of a 160-km road project in Myanmar. Apart from
this, the BRO had no other project abroad since it completed
the 215-km Delaram-Zaranj road in Afghanistan.

For the North East India, Badani said BRO was working on
10 road projects totalling 1,000 kms under the Special
Accelerated Border Road Development Project (SABRDP), which
would be completed by 2012-13.

"We have already completed about 40 per cent to 45 per
cent of the work under the SABRDP. We are working to complete
them on time," he added.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the BRO had a 812-km road work,
which would be completed as per the SABRDP deadline.

On the 8.8-km Rohtang-Manali tunnel, Badani said the BRO
teams were already in position to begin work on the tunnel for
which a Rs 1,450-crore contract was awarded last year.

"We are waiting for the snow to clear up. Work on the
tunnel will begin by July first week and we expect to complete
it by 2015. It will be a world-class, state-of-the-art tunnel
with facilities such as escape latches and routes and exhaust
for gases and," he added.

The BRO, Badani said, was constructing 3,500-km of
strategic roads at present and it had established a new
project called Vijayak in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Arunank
in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in the recent months.

On the manpower issue in BRO, its chief said of the
42,646 authorised strength, it at present had 35,999 personnel
in service, leaving a shortfall of 6,647 men, which accounted
for 15 per cent of the sanctioned manpower.

Badani said his organisation had its only recruitment
centre in Pune (Maharashtra) and two mobile recruitment units
in Pathankot (Punjab) and Shillong (Meghalaya). Now it plans
to start new permanent centres in Rishikesh (Uttarakhand) and
Tezpur (Assam), apart from new mobile centres for Jharkhand,
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

"With these efforts, we intend to localise recruitment
and bring down the manpower shortage to about 10 per cent by
June or July this year, which would be manageable level," he