New Delhi: To ensure swift movement of troops at borders with China and Pakistan, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed 24 bridges and three roads, including at the height of over 19,000 feet in Ladakh, in four states and two union territories.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh virtually inaugurated these 24 bridges and three roads from Delhi.
Of the 24 bridges, nine are in Jammu and Kashmir, five each in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, three in Uttarakhand and one each in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Of the three roads, two are in Ladakh and one is in West Bengal.
The projects e-inaugurated by Singh have been completed on important road axis and laterals along the Northern and Eastern borders of the country.
The highlight was the inauguration of India's first indigenous class 70 -- 140-feet Double-Lane Modular Bridge -- built at the height of 11,000 feet at Flag Hill Dokala, Sikkim and Chisumle-Demchok road at Umling La Pass at over 19,000 feet in Ladakh which also holds the Guinness World Record of world's highest motorable road.
The 33 kilometers Flag Hill-Dokla road will reduce the travel time for Indian troops to reach Dokla area near the Doklam plateau where a 73-day standfoff took place between Indian and Chinese armies in 2017. It is an alternate route to the border areas near the India-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction where China has been aggressively ramping up military infrastructure.
Earlier, there was just one route to Dokla from the Bheem Base completed in 2018.
The 52 km long road connecting Chisumale to Demchock cutting through the Umling La (Pass) at 19,300 feet provides an alternate route from Leh to the strategically important Demchock.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister termed the inauguration a "reflection" of the BRO's commitment to the progress of border areas and exuded confidence that these construction works would go a long way in the development of a New India.
The road at Umling-La pass, he said, will enable faster movement of Armed Forces, boost tourism and ensure socio-economic development of the region.
"Roads in border areas cater to the strategic needs and ensure equal participation of remote areas in the development of the nation," he said, commending BRO for its perseverance in achieving the feat despite the challenges of sub-zero temperatures and high altitude.
Singh described the indigenous Double-Lane Modular Bridge as a shining example of 'Aatmanirbharta' (Self Reliant India) and appreciated the fact that it has been developed at a much lower cost and can be dismantled, if need be.
"It is an important milestone on the path to achieve 'Make in India' as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a symbol of the Government's resolve to provide faster connectivity to border areas. It will also pave the way for the construction of more bridges in such areas," he added.
The e-inauguration has taken the tally of infrastructure projects executed by BRO to a record 102 in a single working season, that too in the 75th year of India's Independence.
The BRO has completed the construction in a record timeframe, with state-of-the-art technology used in most of them.
Earlier in June this year, Singh had dedicated to the nation 12 roads and 63 bridges - totalling 75 projects - in 75th year of Independence under the aegis of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
Singh defined the construction of roads, highways, tunnels and bridges in border areas as pivotal to building a strong and prosperous nation, saying that a country, which develops its own paths, shows the way to the world.
He lauded the contribution of the BRO towards nation building by continuously improving the socio-economic condition of the people of far-flung areas and helping the country achieve its security, communication and trade objectives.
He made special mention of the recent milestones of the BRO, including Atal Tunnel, Kailash Mansarovar road, recent inauguration of 54 bridges and setting up of Centres of Excellence on 'Road Safety' and roads, bridges, tunnels, air-fields'.
Reiterating the government's resolve of holistic development of the nation, Singh said, keeping in view the security needs of the country, the government has accorded top priority to infrastructure development in border areas, just as the focus has been on strengthening the interior parts.
"We faced our adversary in the Northern sector recently with grit and determination. It could not have been possible without proper infrastructural development. The BRO has been fulfilling its duties with utmost dedication."
He said that strong infrastructure in border areas is essential in today's uncertain times as it strengthens strategic capabilities.
"As we move forward in the direction of strengthening our border infrastructure, we have to bolster our surveillance systems as well. Problems of infiltration, skirmishes, illegal trade and smuggling, etc often persist in border areas. In view of this, government had started Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System sometime back," he added.