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Can’t rule out possibility of any conflict today: Rajnath Singh on developing border infra

Rajnath Singh virtually dedicated to the nation 24 bridges and three roads, built by the Border Roads Organisation in four states and two Union Territories

In his address, Rajnath Singh said strong infrastructure in border areas is essential in today's uncertain times as it strengthens strategic capabilities. (File image)

In his address, Rajnath Singh said strong infrastructure in border areas is essential in today's uncertain times as it strengthens strategic capabilities. (File image)

The possibility of a conflict cannot be ruled out in today’s uncertain environment, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said while opening roads and bridges in border areas including Ladakh, where India is locked in a dragging military standoff with China.

Speaking after virtually dedicating to the nation 24 bridges and three roads, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in four states and two Union Territories, Singh listed the development of critical border infrastructure as a key priority to boost India’s overall military preparedness to confront any security challenge.

“The situation we faced in the northern sector recently, and the manner in which we were able to respond strongly to the adversary, would not have been possible without appropriate infrastructure development,” Singh said in a reference to the eastern Ladakh standoff. He said India would not have been able to respond strongly to the adversary in the northern sector if there was no infrastructure in the region.

“In today’s uncertain environment, the possibility of any kind of conflict cannot be ruled out. Such situations motivate us even more for the development of these areas. It is a matter of pride that we have the BRO for cooperation in the development of these areas.”

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Of the 24 bridges, nine are in Jammu and Kashmir, five each in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, three in Uttarakhand and one each in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Of the three roads, two are in Ladakh and one is in West Bengal.

The main highlight was the inauguration of a 140-foot double-lane modular bridge, built at the height of 11,000 feet at Flag Hill in Sikkim’s Dokala, and the Chisumle-Demchok road at Umling La Pass at over 19,000 feet in Ladakh, which holds the Guinness Record of the world’s highest motorable road.

He said the road at Umling-La pass will enable faster movement of armed forces, boost tourism and ensure socio-economic development of the region. “As we move forward in the direction of strengthening our border infrastructure, we have to bolster our surveillance systems as well,” Singh pointed out.

“Problems of infiltration, skirmishes, illegal trade and smuggling, etc often persist in border areas. In view of this, the government has started the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System,” he said.

The defence minister also announced the setting up of BRO Cafes at 75 places which, he said, would boost tourism and help armed forces personnel in border areas. He said these cafes will showcase the local traditions and have facilities such as parking, sitting area, souvenir shops, medical inspection rooms and photo galleries.

Singh rued that adequate attention was not given to developing border infrastructure after Independence, but asserted that there was a major change in the approach in the last few years.

“After Independence, our policies were such that the internal areas of the country developed, but the border areas remained relatively deprived of development. This situation continued for a long time,” he said. “As we used to move away from Delhi, the graph of development also kept falling down in the same proportion. Earlier, it was said that people from border areas may be far from Delhi, but they are not far from our hearts. But as the transport sector witnessed major expansion, it became an old saying.”

The defence minister said keeping in view the security needs of the country, the government has accorded top priority to infrastructure development in border areas. He said the roads in border areas are not only for strategic needs but also for ensuring equal participation of remote areas in the development of the nation.

Referring to the construction of the road in southern Ladakh, Singh said the BRO achieved a “historic feat” despite facing numerous challenges, including that of extreme altitude and sub-zero temperatures. “It is a matter of pride not only for BRO but also for the nation.”

The defence minister described the indigenous double-lane modular bridge as a shining example of “aatmanirbharta” (self-reliance) and appreciated the fact that it has been developed at a much lower cost and can be dismantled if need be. “It is an important milestone on the path to achieving ‘Make in India’ as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a symbol of the government’s resolve to provide faster connectivity to border areas. It will also pave the way for the construction of more bridges in such areas,” he said.

The virtual inauguration has taken the tally of infrastructure projects executed by the BRO to a record 102 in a single working season.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 29, 2021 11:04 am
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