The Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju has asked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to explore the possibility of hiring helicopters from outside agencies to expedite construction of strategic roads in Arunachal Pradesh and other Himalayan border states. Presiding over a meeting of the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) in Itanagar last evening, Shri Pallam Raju stressed on the need to build infrastructure right upto the border areas.
The Director-General, Border Roads Lt. General MC Badhani informed the meeting that the Indian Air Force airlift capability was extremely low, leading to delays in most border roads in Arunachal beyond 2013. Against BRO’s need of 3,500 tons last year, only 400 tons was actually airlifted. The Pawan Hans has submitted an initial proposal to partially meet the BRO’s helicopter requirements in the North-East, said General Badhani, but their pilots were not trained for hanging payloads that need to be airdropped in inaccessible places lacking landing sites. Over 75 percent of BRO’s road construction projects are in High Altitude Areas, he added. The BRO is presently building 2,764 kms of the total 5,061 kms road length in Arunachal Pradesh alone.
Pointing out that the earthmovers and machinery deployed in snowbound areas were reduced to a life span of just 30 percent of their optimum level, Engineer-in-Chief Lt. General AK Nanda assured that the Utility Factor was obsolete to the BRO’s present day working environment and would be revised soon.
Expressing concern that the fatality rate is highest in the BRO amongst any force in the country, General Badhani said even the Army did not deploy men in difficult areas beyond two-three years. Seeking road construction projects in the hinterland as well, General Badhani said the BRO men were too stressed, working all their career in very difficult areas and cut away from their families. The Secretary, BRDB, Shri Subhash Sharma said that the BRO had a very high fatality rate of nine in ten days, much higher than the fatality rate of the Army battalions in Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier yesterday Pallam Raju inaugurated a War Memorial at a World War-II cemetery at Jairampur in Arunachal’s Changlang district. The cemetery is located on the Stillwell Road built by the Allied Forces, linking Ledo in Assam, passing through Myanmar and running right upto China. Only two of the nearly 1,000 graves, believed to be of US, Chinese and Taiwanese soldiers, were found during the road reconstruction project in February, 1999.
Raju also inaugurated the 3-day Pangsau Pass Winter Festival at Nampong, Changlang alongwith Arunachal Chief Minister Shri Dorje Khandu.