(Updating earlier copy)
New Delhi (NVI): Amid border stand-off in Eastern Ladakh along LAC, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today said that Pakistan and China are creating border disputes under a mission.
Singh was addressing a virtual conference today after inaugurating 44 major permanent bridges by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in strategically key areas located in seven States and Union Territories of in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
“You are also aware of the situation at our eastern and northern borders. It appears as if border disputes are being created under a mission, first by Pakistan and now even China. The two countries share 7,000 km of borders with us and often in some or the other sector there is tension. Despite such problems the nation is not just dealing with these challenges with great determination but also bringing about crucial changes in all sectors,” Singh said.
“Despite facing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation at the borders India has been resolute in its response. The nation has also been successful in completing its infrastructure projects under the inspiring leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Defence Minister said.
Singh also congratulated DG and all ranks of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for their achievements and said that dedication of 44 bridges in one go in itself was a record.
Lauding the BRO for its role in improving the border infrastructure, the Defence Minister said these bridges improved connectivity in the far-flung areas of western, northern and north east sectors and fulfilled the aspirations of local people.
“They would also meet the transport and logistics requirements of the armed forces throughout the year,” he added.
Singh said that roads and bridges are the lifeline of any nation and play a vital role in the socio-economic development of far flung regions.
Reiterating the Central government’s commitment to boost development activities in border areas, he said that progress of all projects is regularly being monitored and adequate funds are being provided for their timely execution.
The Defense Minister further informed that the annual budget of BRO that varied from Rs 3,300 crores to Rs 4,600 crores in years 2008-2016, saw a substantial rise and is pegged at over Rs 11,000 Crores in 2020-21. There was no reduction of this budget despite COVID-19 pandemic.
During the ceremony, Singh also laid the foundation stone of the strategically important Nechiphu Tunnel on the road to Tawang. This 450 mtrs long, bi-lane tunnel would ensure all weather connectivity across Nechiphu Pass besides providing a safe and secure passage through accident-prone areas.
Moreover, briefing the dignitaries, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, DG BRO, said the 44 bridges of various spans ranging from 30 meters to 484 meters are located in J&K (10), Ladakh (08), Himachal Pradesh (02), Punjab (04), Uttarakhand (08), Arunachal Pradesh (08) and Sikkim (04).
Harpal also said these bridges are of strategic importance and have been designed to facilitate movement of heavy civil and military traffic in border areas. “In line with the vision of Prime Minister, these bridges will contribute towards the overall economic growth of remote border areas and will also assist in speedy deployment of Armed Forces in strategically important sectors,” he added.
BRO has worked relentlessly even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continuing with works of strategic importance like construction of major bridges and roads, Atal Tunnel Rohtang, Sela Tunnel etc, and Snow Clearance for opening of Strategic Mountain Passes.
However, the dedication ceremony was conducted in the presence of Union Minister Jitendra Singh, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff, Gen MM Naravane and Defence Secretary, Ajay Kumar.