Jammu: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday stated that national security overweighed ideological differences in the diverse political landscape of the country thus reflecting perfect federal synergy between state governments and the centre.
He was addressing the gathering at strategically crucial Devak bridge on Bishnah-Kaulpur-Phulpur Road after dedicating to the nation 90 infrastructure projects (including Devak bridge) of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), worth over Rs 2,900 Cr, spread across 11 States and Union Territories.
The state-of-the-art 422.9-meter-long Class 70 RCC Devak bridge is of strategic importance as it will enhance the operational preparedness of the armed forces and boost socio-economic development of the region.
Rajnath, who arrived this morning on a day-long visit to Jammu, effusively praised BRO stating that it was actually serving as a ‘bro’ (brother) for the armed forces by expediting the completion of projects.
“Through timely completion of infra projects, which has emerged as a new normal for India now, BRO is not just securing the country’s frontiers but also contributing a great deal in socio-economic contribution of far-flung and border areas. Its dedication can be gauged with the fact that it has constructed one project every third day in the past 900 days,” the Defence Minister said.
Earlier in the morning, on his arrival at the Technical Airport Jammu, he was received by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and other senior officers of army and air force. Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh accompanied him.
Out of total 90 projects dedicated to the nation by Rajnath also included Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh; two airfields in West Bengal; two helipads; 22 roads and 63 bridges.
36 of these projects are in Arunachal Pradesh; 26 in Ladakh; 11 in Jammu & Kashmir; five in Mizoram; three in Himachal Pradesh; two each in Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and one each in Nagaland, Rajasthan and Andaman and 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.
Rajnath credited the timely completion of these projects to the hard work and dedication of its personnel as well as the commitment of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He hoped the BRO would soon set another unique record with the construction of Shinkun La Tunnel, the world’s highest tunnel at an altitude of 15,855 feet. The tunnel would connect Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal to the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh and provide all weather connectivity, he said.
Rajnath emphasised that infrastructure development in border areas was not only effective for national security, but also promoted connectivity with a neighbouring country which functions with a spirit of cooperation with India. He pointed out that the BRO constructed infrastructure projects in several countries such as Myanmar and Bhutan and helped in strengthening peace and cooperation with them.
He termed the working style and projects of the BRO as a shining example of civil-military fusion. “Civil-military fusion is the need of the hour, as the responsibility of the nation’s security lies not only with the soldiers but also with the civilians. The BRO is developing infrastructure for the security of the country by coordinating with the civil and military sectors,” he said.
The Defence Minister called upon the BRO to involve local bodies and the people by understanding their needs and taking inputs for the projects in border areas. “Your job is not only to connect one place with another. It is also to connect the hearts of the people with your actions. The constructions should represent the spirit of ‘for the people, of the people and by the people’,” he said.
Rajnath appreciated the BRO for being conscious about its responsibilities towards the environment and using modern techniques and technologies for infrastructure development. He urged them to keep focusing on the developmental activities, while laying equal emphasis on environment protection.
“Till now, we have worked with the mantra of ‘minimum investment, maximum value’. Now, we need to move forward with the mantra of ‘minimum environment degradation, maximum national security, maximum welfare’,” he said.
Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Member of Parliament, Jammu Jugal Kishore Sharma, Director General, Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha were among those present on the occasion.
BRO statement mentioned that Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu joined the event virtually.
An important infrastructure project inaugurated by Rajnath was 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. It will be beneficial to the Armed Forces deployed in the region and the tourists visiting Tawang. Rajnath had laid the foundation stone of the tunnel in October 2020.
The revamped Bagdogra and Barrackpore Airfields in West Bengal were also dedicated to the nation. These airfields, reconstructed at a cost of over Rs 500 crore, will not only bolster the preparedness of the Indian Air Force (IAF), but also facilitate commercial flight operations in the region.
In addition, the Defence Minister virtually laid the foundation stone of Nyoma Airfield in Eastern Ladakh. This airfield, to be 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. Rajnath exuded confidence that this airfield, which would be one of the world’s highest, would prove to be a game-changer for the Armed Forces.
DG BRO stated that with today’s inauguration of 90 projects worth Rs 2,900 crore, a record 295 infrastructure projects of the BRO, at an overall cost of approx. Rs 8,000 crore, had been dedicated to the nation since 2021. In 2022, 103 projects worth approximately Rs 2,900 Cr were inaugurated; while in 2021, 102 projects at a cost of over Rs 2,200 crore were dedicated to the nation.