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OLD ISSUE
INTERVIEW
‘We Need to Improve Our Research and Development and Quality Control Skills’
Officiating Chief Engineer, Himank (Leh), Col V.S. Yadav
What is Himank’s area of operation? Since when have you been operating in this area?
The area of operation that comes under Himank is the entire Eastern Ladakh. Border roads were established in Ladakh in 1960 and later when the first task force 16 BRTF was raised here, the east of Zozilla and and north of Sadhu was taken care by the BRTF. Today on an average 3,000 kms of roads are taken care by Himank, which came into action in 1985.

 What have been the high points of Himank’s operations?
One of the biggest high points of Himank’s operations is that we have the most difficult and inhospitable terrain where the temperature dips till -40 degree and the working locations are at the height of 12,000 to 19,000 feet. Despite this, we are responsible for opening the two lifelines to Ladakh, Manali and the Srinagar access. In summers,
undoubtedly the access is easier as the vehicle mobility is not hindered but even during winters seven passes are open including the world famous Khardung la and Chang la. We are working in the remotest places where no other government or private organisation is willing to work.

 What are the challenges you face in this sector and how do you overcome them?
The first and foremost challenge is the weather, which along with low temperature is accompanied with high velocity winds. This leads to slow start up of machinery and challenging health conditions of the force. Secondly, the induction of resources and labour is done only for a period of seven months before the de-induction takes place. As far as overcoming these challenges are concerned we have started using the turbo-charged engines which help in increasing the efficiency of the machinery in cold climate and high altitude. The men undergo intensive training sessions before their induction. The induction of labour here, due to high altitude is a real challenge, so to overcome that we follow a procedure under which letters are issued to the labour commissioners of different states requesting them to send labour to this area. For the resources induction, we plan a year in advance and procure quantities as required for the next year.

 How much of your work is effected by the weather in your AOR?
In this area weather guides everything. As I mentioned earlier, from the starting up of the machines to the health conditions of the forces, everything depends completely on the weather condition. It being a high altitude area, the working hours are lesser as compared to the plains. Another important factor here is lack of oxygen which impedes the efficiency level of an individual. Our target is to finish maximum work within the stipulated seven months i.e. from May to November, as after that the snowfall paralyses life.

What are your current projects and what is the timeline of completion of those? Do you anticipate any slippages in that?

We work under a plan called the Long Term Perspective Plan (LTPP). The time span for this plan is about 10 years and the upgradation takes place every five years. In case of emergency the upgradation also takes place annually. As for now, we are working on two plans which are LTTP1 and LTTP2.
According to LTTP 1 there are 18 roads to be completed by the year 2012, out of which 14 roads are already constructed and four are on the way to completion. When we talk about LTTP2, there are 32 roads to be completed by the year 2022 and we have already commenced construction on nine of these roads. To ensure early road connectivity, we provide temporarily built bridges which are constructed under a plan called Probable Date of Completion (PDC). We don’t see any slippages in these plans.

BRO is frequently accused of not adhering to the deadlines. What is the reason for this?

BRO is working in extreme conditions where no government organisation or stores have entered. Due to these conditions there are certain delays at times but later when the establishment gets operative, we try to cover up for the delay by finishing the task at the earliest.
 
 
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