Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday dedicated to the nation 90 infrastructure projects, worth over Rs 2,900 crore, built by Border Roads Organisation and spread over 11 states and union territories. Among the projects that were opened are the Nechiphu tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh, two airfields in West Bengal, two helipads, 22 roads and 63 bridges. Out of the 90 projects, 36 are in Arunachal Pradesh, 26 in Ladakh, 11 in Jammi and Kashmir, three in Himachal Pradesh and two each in Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, all along the Line of Actual Control facing China. Five projects were inaugurated in Mizoram and one each in Rajasthan, Nagaland and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These projects are strategically vital and they were completed by BRO in record time using state-of-the-art technology. The half a kilometre long Nechiphu tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh, along with under-construction Sela tunnel, will provide all-weather connectivity for the Indian armed forces to reach the strategic Tawang area. Similarly, two airfields have been built in Bagdogra and Barrackpore in West Bengal. Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone for Nyoma airfield in eastern Ladakh to augment IAF’s capability. This will be one of the world’s highest airfield and can be a gamechanger for Indian army. Similarly, Shinkun La tunnel, the world’s highest tunnel at an altitude of 15,855 feet is being built to connect Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh to Zanskar valley in Ladakh, which will provide all-weather connectivity. In the last two years, BRO has built 295 infrastructure projects at a cost of nearly Rs 8,000 crore. Rajnath Singh said, India-China border infrastructure has been developed on a large scale during nine years of Modi’s rule. In comparison, no work on such a scale took place in the preceding sixty years, he said. Earlier, Indian army, BSF and ITBP used to face problems in moving to border areas near China at high altitudes due to lack of roads, bridges and tunnels. There was lack of political will at the top and meagre funds used to be allocated for border infrastructure. BRO chief Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry said, the day is not far off when India will leave China behind in Himalayan border region infrastructure. He gave some details which were astonishing. From 2008 till 2015, BRO was building 632 km border roads every year, but since 2015, this has jumped to 934 km per year. From 2008 till 2015, BRO was building 1,224 metre bridges every year, but now it has risen to 3,652 km annually. The speed and scale of work has increased along with allocation of funds. From 2008 till 2017, annual BRO budget used to be between Rs 3305 crore and Rs 4670 crore, but for 2023-24, BRO budget is Rs 15,000 crore. BRO spent Rs 12,340 crore on border infra development in 2022-23. In the last four years, BRO budget has almost doubled and the trigger point was the bloody clash between Indian army and Chinese PLA soldiers in Galwan valley of Ladakh. Lt Gen Chaudhry said, since independence, BRO built only two tunnels during 60 years, but in the last three years, BRO has completed work on four tunnels, and ten more tunnels are approaching completion. Plans for building seven more tunnels at forward locations are ready. At a time, when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been alleging that Chinese army has occupied a large part of Indian territory that was being used by shepherds and locals in Ladakh, these achievements of BRO are indeed a welcome step. Ladakh’s Lt. Gov Retd Brigadier B D Mishra has replied to Rahul’s charge and said that he personally visited forward areas and found that not a single inch of land has been occupied by the enemy. The border infrastructure that has been built near LAC is strategically essential, particularly at a time when the armies of both countries are facing each other. China had been developing its border infrastructure continuously, but sadly our previous governments did not develop infrastructure on our side fearing that China may object. The previous government had presumed that India will not be able to match China in building border infra. A. K. Antony, who was defence minister in Manmohan Singh government had told the Lok Sabha on September 6, 2013 that China is far ahead in border infra development, and India cannot match it. The then government did not build roads, tunnels and airfields near the border because its policy was that ‘non-developed border is more secure than developed border’. This, precisely, was the reason why China had been aggressive towards India, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now changed the entire lexicon. He has now adopted an aggressive policy replacing the earlier defensive posturing. Modi has replied to China in its own language and today our armed forces are ready to face China in any weather. The building of roads, bridges, tunnels and airstrips on our border is a notable achievement. Our tanks and guns will be able to move towards forward positions at a faster pace, but Rahul Gandhi does not find this exciting. He continues to adopt a posture against Narendra Modi, even if it amounts to indirectly supporting China. Opposition leaders have been trying day in and day out to tarnish Modi’s image.
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