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BRO to stop highway project through Naxal-hit states

Source: PTI
May 05, 2010 16:44 IST
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The Border Roads Organisation have been asked to move out of the National Highway-16 project in Naxal-infested Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh on 'as is where is basis' by March next year.

The BRO, a defence institution, will hand over the 200-km work it was tasked to complete to respective state governments and move on to strategically more important project along the borders with Pakistan and China, BRO's Director General Lt Gen M C Badani told mediapersons in New Delhi on Wednesday on the occasion of his organisation's golden jubilee celebrations.

"The Hirak project (involving NH-16 road construction) is a special task force (project). It is not a normal project and was raised as a truncated project to work without too many manpower in the headquarters," Badani said.

"Hirak will be handing over this national highway to the three state governments and moving out to strategically important areas which we have to undertake within a particular probable date of completion. The directions, which were given as per the government is concerned, by March 31 (next year) the project will be handing over the entire road to the three state governments on 'as is where is' basis," he said.

The Nagpur-based Hirak project was tasked to complete a 200-km stretch of the highway passing through Dantewada in Chattisgarh, where Maoists massacred 76 Central Reserve Police Force jawans last month.

The BRO, the premier institution to build roads, bridges and tunnels in difficult border terrain of the country, has so far constructed 92-km stretch of the highway.

It is currently working on a 40-km stretch of the highway in which three important bridges are incomplete.

"I have moved a proposal that we be allowed to complete the bridges before we transfer the manpower to other strategically important project in the borders. The remaining stretch would be taken care of by the respective state governments," Badani said.

Of the NH-16 stretch the BRO as tasked to construct, 68 kms would be left incomplete while it is handed over to Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Admitting that Naxals was a major problem in the area through which NH-16 runs, the BRO DG said the problem existed even before his organisation was deployed there, but steps had been taken to tackle the threat both through BRO's own security personnel from the Territorial Army and on and off through state police personnel.

Badani said the Hirak project task force would hand over the NH-16 works through a "clean methodology" and shift its personnel out of there keeping in view the overall strength required for the highway and other strategically important projects along the borders.

He said there could be no criticism of BRO for moving out of the NH-16 work, as "everybody concerned" knew the reasons for it doing so.

Badani was replying to a query on what he had to say regarding the reported criticism of the BRO's decision by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Tuesday.

He said there was no delay on the BRO's part in completing the highway work and that his organisation had got considerable support from the local population, as the project had generated employment for the people in the areas through which the road passes.

"The Naxalite problem has not affected us much because we are getting support of the local population. They (Naxals) have come once or twice and burnt down our equipment. But we immediately redeploy," he said.

He said the BRO was moving its manpower from Hirak project to projects in Sikkim and other areas along the border with China.

Asked about the Indian border roads not being anywhere near the army border posts though China had its road infrastructure right up to the border positions, the BRO chief said, "Ours (roads) will also go up to the borders if required and as per the planning. Nobody is preventing it. Plans are there and it will be completed."

He said the border road projects of India had no relation to what Chinese had on their side. "The idea behind the strategic roads in the borders is to assist the army in moving its personnel and equipment nearer to their posts and to connect border, remote villages with the rest of the country," he added.

Badani said the BRO was also working on seven airfield maintenance projects at Srinagar, Avantipur, Leh, Thoise and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir, Yangphula in Arunachal Pradesh and Paro in Bhutan.

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