Several roads connecting sensitive border areas along India-China-Nepal border with the rest of the country were washed away in Uttarakhand floods recently. Result? Rescue teams couldn’t reach the cut off areas, and in case of a security threat, no troop movement was possible either.
Waking up to this reality, country’s premier road construction agency in sensitive areas, Border Roads Organisation, has asked the Central government to build roads - along new alignments - that can withstand monsoons, rather than restoring the damaged ones.
“The Cabinet secretariat has asked the BRO to submit a proposal in this regard,” said an official, wishing anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
New roads will mean quicker rescue operations in times of disasters and faster troop movement in case of a security threat.
Most of the roads washed away in the recent flash floods had been hurriedly put together parallel to pedestrian tracks during Indo-China war in 1962, said a report submitted to the government after the flood disaster . The roads were not developed later for fear of Chinese army using them in case of an attack.
However, a top official, wishing anonymity, said the government estimates that new roads in Uttarakhand upper reaches will cost more than Rs. 1,000 crore and it will take a few years to set the plan in motion. For now, it would go ahead with repairs of the damaged road network, expected to cost Rs. 100 crore.