Border Roads Organisation to focus on strategic roads

December 6, 2013


          (The government has decided…)


NEW DELHI: The government has decided to take back several road projects from the Border Roads Organisation(BRO) to reduce its workload and help it focus on its primary task of developing and maintaining ‘strategic roads’ that serve border areas.

Officials familiar with the development said the government is also considering setting up a new company or wing under the highways ministry for the development of national highways, which, too, are of strategic importance and can improve connectivity with neighbouring countries. This company or wing could be set up in the next 5-6 months, they said.

The decision to withdraw some projects from BRO was taken at the “highest level”, an official said, because the organisation has been struggling to develop roads and highways in its portfolio, many of which have not taken off for several years.

BRO was set up primarily to service the connectivity needs of the armed forces.

The highways ministry has in a joint exercise with the BRO already identified 2,940 km of road projects from its portfolio of 5,229 km that would be transferred to state Public Work Departments (PWDs) and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), another official said.

This includes some road projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim and Nagaland. BRO, however, has indicated that of the 2,940 km, it would like to retain 715 km for “operational necessity”. The move to transfer roads out of BRO has also been agreed to by the defence ministry.

Officials familiar with the development said more road projects would be pulled out of BRO and given to the new wing or company. “If this vertical is in place, we can develop many more stretches,” another official said. “Most of these roads are in difficult areas that require special technology or know-how, which state PWDs may not be able to do while NHAI is already stretched. For instance, high altitude highways that is being planned in states like Uttarakhand, so they are not affected by floods.”

The highways ministry will be taking a note to the Cabinet this month, which will seek to propose conversion of 7,000 km of roads in various states into highways. Of this, 2,000 km of roads along border areas have been identified for conversion while 5,000 km of state roads have been identified for the same, so that district headquarters can be connected to the national grids. Officials said roads like the Manali-Leh highway, which are under BRO but are yet to be developed adequately, are likely to be made part of this proposal.



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