The Border Roads Organization [BROs} has demonstrated the capability of rapid development of surface communication in some of the most sensitive geological areas in the World – the Himalayas. Being “young,” mountains the Himalayas are prone to fractures unlike the Tibetan Plateau which is relatively stabile.
The recent dedication by Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh of 90 BRO infrastructure projects, built at a cost of over Rs 2,900 crore, across 11 States/Union Territories is a demonstration of the BRO’s seminal achievements. 295 BRO projects, worth Rs 8,000 crore have been dedicated to the nation since 2021.
The latest series of projects include Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh; two airfields in West Bengal; two helipads; 22 roads and 63 bridges. Of these 90 projects, 36 are in Arunachal Pradesh; 26 in Ladakh; 11 in Jammu & Kashmir; five in Mizoram; three in Himachal Pradesh; two each in Sikkim, Uttarakhand & West Bengal and one each in Nagaland, Rajasthan and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The BRO has completed the construction of these strategically-important projects in record time; most of them in a single working season using state-of-the-art technology as per the Press Information Bureau release.
Of these the 500-metre long Nechiphu Tunnel on Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh. This tunnel, along with the under construction Sela Tunnel, will provide all-weather connectivity to the strategic Tawang Region. The revamped Bagdogra and Barrackpore Airfields in West Bengal will bolster the preparedness of the Indian Air Force (IAF), but also facilitate commercial flight operations in the region.
Nyoma Airfield in Eastern Ladakh is being developed at a cost of approx. Rs 200 crore, will boost the air infrastructure in Ladakh and augment IAF’s capability along the Northern border. The Raksha Mantri exuded confidence that this airfield, which will be one of the world’s highest, would prove to be a game-changer for the Armed Forces. The challenge ahead is construction of Shinkun La Tunnel, the world’s highest tunnel at an altitude of 15,855 feet. The tunnel will connect Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal to the Zaskar Valley in Ladakh and provide all weather connectivity as per the Raksha Mantri.
Development of infrastructure in the border areas with China was an operational necessity imposed on India by China’s progressive increase in roads and tracks accessing the last mile of the Line of Actual Control with mechanized forces.
Now the Indian Armed Forces have come at par in some respects yet this may only set into motion another cycle of infrastructure build up with China upping the ante and India following up. To reinforce deterrence, the cycle of infrastructure is thus expected to continue with each side attempting to get an upside on the other.
Given the present trends in India China relations, there is unlikely to be any let up in this cycle despite the adverse impact on budgetary resources for modernization for the Indian armed forces and the environmental impact.