Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday dedicated six major bridges to the nation via a video-conference link from New Delhi in a bid to ensure better connectivity of roads and bridges in sensitive border areas close to the 198-kilometre (km)-long India-Pakistan International Border (IB) and the 744-km-long Line of Control (LoC) in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
Singh congratulated the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for completing the works of six bridges in record time and complimented them for contributing to nation-building by working in one of the most hostile terrain and weather conditions.
He said that roads and bridges are the lifelines of any nation and play a vital role in the socio-economic development of far-flung regions.
Reiterating the Central government’s commitment to prioritise development activities in J&K, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is regularly monitoring the progress of these projects and adequate funds are being provided for their timely execution.
He said, “It is a pleasant experience to inaugurate these bridges that ‘connect people’, at a time when the world is insisting on maintaining distance, being isolated from each other (due to the coronavirus disease, Covid-19). I would like to congratulate them on completing this important task with great skill.”
He added: “Continued construction of roads and bridges in the border areas of the country with total commitment by the BRO would help in realisation of the efforts of the government to reach the remotest areas. Roads are the lifeline of any nation,” he added.
“Roads in the border areas are not only strategic strengths, but also, act to connect remote areas with the mainstream. In this way, be it the strategic necessity of the Armed Forces or other development work related to health, education, and trade, all these are possible only with connectivity,” he said.
He hoped that the construction of modern roads and bridges would bring prosperity to the region.
“Our government is committed to promoting infrastructure on our borders and the necessary resources will be provided for this. Our government has a keen interest in the development of J&K. Keeping in mind the need of the people of J&K and Armed Forces, many other development works are also in the pipeline, which will be announced in due time. About 1,000-m-long long roads are under construction in the Jammu region,” he said.
The six bridges were inaugurated in the presence of Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (MoS) (independent charge) and MoS Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space. Jugal Kishore Sharma, Member of Parliament (MP), Jammu, also joined the inauguration programme via a video-link.
The two bridges are located on the Tarnah Nallah in Kathua district and four bridges are situated on Akhnoor-Pallanwala road in Akhnoor in Jammu district, spanning between 30 and 300 metres, and were constructed at a cost of Rs 43 crore.
These bridges, constructed by Project Sampark of the BRO, will facilitate the movement of armed forces in this strategically key sector and will also contribute towards the overall economic growth of the remote border areas.
The annual budget of the BRO, which varied between Rs 3,300 crore and Rs 4,600 crore in the fiscal years 2008-16, was increased to Rs 8,050 in the fiscal year 2019-2020.
The budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 is likely to be Rs 11,800 amid the Modi government’s keen focus on improving infrastructure in remote border areas.
An enhanced budget will give a major boost to ongoing projects and will also expedite the construction of strategic roads, bridges, and tunnels along the strategically-important northern borders.
Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, director-general (DG), BRO, underlined the organisation’s contribution to the nation building and thanked the defence minister for his continuous guidance and support while expressing confidence in meeting the targets in line with the government’s geo-strategic objectives.
Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane; defence secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar; DG BRO Lt Gen Singh in Delhi and along with Brigadier YK Ahuja, chief engineer Project Sampark, Sanjeev Verma, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, senior army and civil administration officials also attended the inauguration programme.