New Delhi: Amid the ongoing tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday inaugurated eight major bridges in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh each along with 28 other bridges located across different border sectors.
The 44 major bridges are located at strategic locations along the western, northern and north-eastern borders. The defence minister also laid the foundation stone for Neciphu tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh.
The bridges across seven states and union territories have been constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) functioning under the defence ministry. The BRO built close to 10 bridges last year in eastern Ladakh alone.
Out of the 44 bridges, eight are in Ladakh, 10 in Jammu and Kashmir, two in Himachal Pradesh, four in Punjab, eight each in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, and four in Sikkim.
Their lengths range from 30 metres to 484 metres. They were constructed under challenging conditions such as steep slopes, difficult approaches and little working space.
Director General of BRO Lt Gen. Harpal Singh said in a statement the bridges will not only facilitate faster movement of heavy civil and military traffic in the border areas, but also provide connectivity to the border population and aid in the faster deployment of troops when needed in sectors of strategic importance.
‘Bridges will meet logistics requirements of armed forces’
In a tweet, the defence minister said the inauguration of 44 bridges will improve connectivity in the far-flung areas of western, northern and north-eastern sectors, and fulfill the aspirations of local people.
“They would also meet the transport and logistics requirements of the armed forces throughout the year,” he said, calling it a significant achievement.
These 44 bridges are spread over seven states and union territories. I congratulate DG Border Roads Organisation and his team for doing exemplary work in challenging times. Inauguration of 44 bridges in one go in itself is a significant achievement.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 12, 2020
In a statement, the minister said this has been possible despite the challenging times of Covid-19, and the border tensions and disputes caused by Pakistan and China.
According to available data, the BRO had completed the construction of 28 major bridges last year, while 102 major bridges are under construction, of which 54 have already been completed.
The BRO has also completed construction of 60 bailey bridges to meet immediate requirements of the armed forces and border population.
The BRO’s budget was nearly stagnant at Rs 4,000 crore between 2009 and 2015, before jumping to Rs 5,400 crore in 2017-18. It has now reached Rs 11,000 crore for the 2020-21 fiscal.
The defence minister also laid the foundation stone for the Nechiphu tunnel on the road to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to the government statement, the 450-metre-long, two-lane tunnel would ensure an all-weather connectivity across Nechiphu Pass besides providing a safe and secure passage through accident-prone areas.
A senior Army officer, who had served in Tezpur, told ThePrint the tunnel, once constructed, will connect Tezpur in Assam, which is the logistics base of the Army, to Tenga Valley where one of the forward divisions of the Army is located.
The officer explained that from Tezpur to Tawang, there are three passes — Bomdilla, Nechiphu and Sela.
“Nechiphu being the boundary between the high humidity Brahmaputra plains and the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh is known to be perennially foggy and prone to landslides. The tunnel will provide a direct link between the Tenga Valley and plains of Tezpur,” the officer said.
Tawang lies further ahead to Tenga Valley at a distance of around 200 km and are connected by inhospitable roads.
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