Money Over Matter | Road to Nowhere

Tardy progress by BRO is a cause for concern especially on Indo-China Border Roads

Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd)Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd)

Since its inception in 1960, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been earning laurels for its dedication, commitment, drive and engineering prowess. It has been the subject of many case studies. BRO dares to construct roads in the virgin areas of the North and the Northeast where no other agency dares to venture. In such daunting terrain and climatic environment, nature’s fury takes a heavy toll of human lives and resources. Only the bravest of the brave can withstand the demands and rigours of operating in such conditions.

BRO has come to be held in high esteem for the incredible service it has done to enhance the defence potential of India’s border areas. Its core competence lies in its ability to make formation cut and construct roads in inaccessible, remote and inhospitable terrain. As employment of mechanical means is of limited use in such areas, most of the construction work has to be carried out manually.

However, for the past few years BRO has been receiving flak from all quarters. During the performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for the year 2004-05, BRO was found deficient on all parameters of efficiency and performance. CAG was scathing in its observations on BRO for tardy progress, underutilisation of resources, faulty bridge designs, procedural lapses and financial irregularities.

CAG observed, “There was shortfall in achieving targets every year. Besides, there were delays of 1 to 13 years in the completion of various works with consequential cost overrun. There is a huge backlog in both road and bridge works. While it would take 10 to 13 years to clear the backlog in road works, more than 20 years would be required to clear the backlog in bridge works based on annual pace of execution for the last five years.” The said report shocked all.

A number of corrective measures were initiated by the government to arrest the slide and to make BRO acquire its old vibrancy. It was shifted from the ministry of surface transport to the ministry of defence for closer oversight. However, most disappointingly, there has been little improvement on the ground. As per the reports, BRO is continuing to function at a sluggish pace with complacency, inefficiency, indiscretions and ineptitude.

Army and BRO personnel re-constructing the Dorungli bridge in Poonch, Jammu
Army and BRO personnel re-constructing the Dorungli bridge in Poonch, Jammu

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