JAMMU: At a time when need is felt to build sufficient infrastructure along the border with China, fate of nine vital roads at the Indo-china border along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh region is hanging in balance during the past several years mainly due to slackness of the Border Roads Organization. This has resulted into non-utilization of hundreds of crores of rupees sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence with the objective of bolstering existing inadequate network of roads.
Official sources told that in order to address the complaints of the Army regarding lack of proper road infrastructure in the areas along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh region, the Union Ministry of Defence during the past two to three years sanctioned 12 road projects worth hundreds of crores of rupees.
The task of constructing these roads was assigned to the Border Roads Organization (BRO). However, till date the BRO has only completed three India-China Border Roads and work on majority of the remaining nine vital roads has not yet commenced due to varied reasons particularly slack approach of those responsible for execution of the roads.
Quoting example of one such road from Dungti to Demchok, sources said, “despite being aware of the fact that their communications with the local officers of the Wildlife Department regarding clearance for utilization of land falling in Changthang wildlife sanctuary didn’t yield any fruitful result, the concerned officers of the BRO have yet not come forward to project the difficulty before the senior officers of the State Government”.
“Due to this, this road could not be taken up with the State Wildlife Board, State Forest Advisory Committee and Empowered Committee of Supreme Court, whose clearance is mandatory for execution of work on the road”, sources informed. This particular road is very imperative from defense point of view as this would provide proper connectivity to Demchok, a point on LAC where Chinese Army generally indulges into face-off with the civilians of this side.
“Whenever the issue of inordinate delay in execution of these nine road projects figures in different forums, the BRO authorities take the excuse of delay in grant of forest and wildlife clearance, limited working season, delay in land acquisition and natural disaster such as flash floods but no serious efforts have been made to seek the intervention of top officers of the State Government”, sources regretted.
The delay in execution of work on these important roads is notwithstanding the fact that Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has already given the General Approval under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land required for construction/ widening of roads entrusted to BRO in the area falling within specified distance from the Line of Actual Control and for link roads between border roads in the area within the specified distance from the LAC and National Highways/State Highways subject to certain conditions.
Moreover, the Ministry of Defence has already asked the Chief Secretary of the State to ensure early clearance for such projects but intervention at this level would become possible only when the BRO places the issues before the head of bureaucracy in State.
Sources said that due to hanging fate of these roads projects, much time is consumed in covering distance from one place to another on the LAC. This can be gauged from the fact that in the absence of road from Dungti to Demchok, several hours are wasted in covering 80-kilometer distance, which on the construction of road can be covered within one hour only.