Pune: Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre on Tuesday said North Eastern states had not received much attention earlier and after the Narendra Modi government came to power, highest priority has been given to this region. Last week, a package of Rs 90,000 crore was announced which included allocation for Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and national highways. A trans-Arunachal Pradesh Highway is also being built.
The minister was in Pune for addressing the annual Chief Engineers Conference 2017 of BRO at GREF Centre, Dighi camp. General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) is the recruitment, training and records office for the BRO personnel.
“I would like to mention the importance of completion of strategic roads including Indo-China border roads and general staff priority roads besides other roads. The security needs of the country demand faster construction of these roads. I am aware that BRO has certain challenges due to terrain and climate as well as paucity of funds, but I am sure BRO shall overcome all challenges and enhance pace of construction as well as adopt newer technologies and procedures,” Bhamre told the officers, while accepting that the adversary has got better infrastructure across the border.
He added, “Other points to be stressed upon during project implementation are environmental and ecological disturbances and obtaining statutory clearances for projects. The government has taken policy decisions for easing the procedure for clearing defence projects. These steps have helped in getting early statutory clearances for some projects and it will certainly assist the executives and engineers on ground for faster construction. These relaxations put greater responsibility on BRO about preservation of environment.”
BRO officials said that in Arunachal Pradesh where most terrain is hilly, the pace of construction of roads is slow because of very slow land acquisition process as well as only 3-4 months' time in a year because of adverse weather. “Even though most land (hills) are owned by the government, it has been difficult to get the land for roads. The government has relaxed norms for environmental clearances. Also, we are focusing on building bridges and tunnels across mountains,” a senior BRO official said.
Lt Gen Sanjeev Kumar Srivastava, DG Border Roads, added, “We have developed fair amount of infrastructure today and it is being further improved.”
During the conference awards were presented for the Best and Runner-up Task Force and Best Road for both Eastern and Western Sectors. In addition, two mobile applications called ‘GREF Abhilekh’ and Standard Schedule of Rates (SSR): BRO were launched alongwith release of the annual technical magazine ‘Oonchi Sadaken.’
'Want friendly relations with China'
Bhamre said, “Our stand about Doklam is firm. We also want to maintain friendly relations with China and want to build on it. But I also want to state that our Army is ready for any eventuality.”