Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated 35 infrastructure projects constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), valued at Rs 670 crore, during an event at Joshimath-Malari Road in Uttarakhand on Friday.
In his address, the defence minister emphasised the importance of connecting remote areas with the rest of the nation.
Out of the 35 projects inaugurated, 29 are bridges, and six are roads.
11 of these projects are being constructed in Jammu & Kashmir, nine in Ladakh, eight in Arunachal Pradesh, three in Uttarakhand, two in Sikkim, one in Mizoram, and one in Himachal Pradesh.
One of the key projects, the Dhak Bridge, holds strategic importance, providing increased connectivity to the borders and promoting socio-economic development in the region.
The inauguration was organised at Dhak Bridge, a 93-meter-long Class 70R bridge over Dhak Nalla. The remaining 34 were inaugurated virtually.
The defence minister took the opportunity to address the development of infrastructure on mountains that ensured safety. This comes shortly after the Uttarakhand tunnel collapse on November 12, where 41 workers were caved in for nearly 16 days. The Silkyara Bendno-Barkot tunnel is one of many construction projects in the country that are underway to create better connectivity between remote regions.
Singh praised the BRO’s recent Silkyra Tunnel operation in Uttarakhand, acknowledging the coordinated efforts of various agencies. He commended the entire General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) team for their exemplary teamwork during the crisis, citing it as an outstanding example.
Rajnath Singh announced a “Risk and Hardship allowance” for permanent civilian personnel of BRO that will be at par with the armed forces, as well as an increase in the ex-gratia compensation for casual labourers to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2 lakh.
“Recently, I approved the provision of insurance of Rs 10 lakh for our CPLs (casual paid labourers). These steps will help in boosting the morale of our Armed Forces personnel, civilian employees and CPLs in BRO,” he said. This scheme will provide insurance worth Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin in cases of death to CPLs.
Speaking on central government initiatives to develop the border region, Singh stated that border regions are an integral part of the country and not just buffer zones between nations. For this reason, roads, bridges, and tunnels were essential infrastructures needed to create better connectivity between areas. He added that this would also foster more unity among the citizens of the country.