The Indian Army's road-building wing has been asked to focus on strategic infrastructure development in the border areas, particularly along the frontier with China, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Tuesday.
Giving details of the steps taken by the government in this regard, Antony told a parliamentary panel that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) “has been directed to focus on strategic infrastructure in border areas and not to diffuse their resources in other states for the time being", a defence ministry statement said.
The directive comes amid reports that China has built several air, road and rail links in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) close to the border with India over the last few years that will enable its People's Liberation Army to mobilise troops to its border launch pads in less than three weeks.
The BRO is building 61 roads near the India-China border areas with a total length of 3,429 km. It also plans to construct 285 roads with a total length of over 4,890 km and an all-weather road to Ladakh. But the pace of the infrastructure building has been alarmingly slow.
BRO Director General Lt Gen MC Badani last week said the agency would move out of the 200 km National Highway-16 project in the Maoist-affected areas of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by March 2011 on an "as is where is basis".
Antony also told the parliamentary consultative committee of the defence ministry that the BRO has been authorised to outsource the job of airlifting machinery and material to difficult terrains as the assets of Indian Air Force were overstretched.
“There are many important projects in various stages of implementation. It will be our endeavour to see that BRO’s capabilities are in consonance with India’s strategic and developmental requirements. We have decided to outsource air efforts, especially through rotary wing, for carrying of necessary equipment, plants, materials and manpower,” the minister said.