06:38 GMT +323 November 2017
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    In this photograph an Indian soldier stands guard at the ancient Nathu La border crossing between India and China

    India Expedites Construction of Border Roads Amid Military Conflict With China

    © AFP 2017/ DIPTENDU DUTTA
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    Indian Army had asked the defense ministry to expedite construction of roads along the border with China citing it as a crucial requirement for faster movement of troops and uninterrupted supplies of ammunition and other necessities.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — In an unprecedented move, the Indian government has decided to delegate more financial powers to the Border Road Organization (BRO) in order to expedite the construction of roads near the border with China. The BRO is an executive force mandated with the task of constructing and maintaining roads in border areas in keeping with defense requirements.

    The move comes shortly after the Indian Army voiced strong concern against the inordinate delay in completion of strategic road projects along China border.

    "Across the border, China has built roads which will give them quick access to border posts in case of any eventuality. We have neglected the infrastructure development in the north-eastern states bordering China, but in view of the continuing standoff with China we need to speed up the construction of border roads," Major GeneralG D Bakshi (Rtd.) told Sputnik.

    BRO has been engaged in the construction of seventy three road projects in the otherwise inaccessible areas bordering China, out of which only twenty seven projects have been completed till date despite the original deadline of 2013. Earlier this year, the defense ministry had said that the remaining projects would take at least five more years to complete. However, after the Indian Army conveyed strong apprehension, the defense ministry said it was delegating more financial autonomy to locals units of the BRO.

    "The Ministry of Defense intends to bring transformational changes in the organization in order to improve the pace of execution of works and to achieve the desired outcomes according to the requirement of the Armed Forces," read a statement issued on Sunday.

    According to new rules, the entire tendering process including acceptance of bids would be completed at the level of chief engineer/additional director general for a majority of the contracts. This would avoid delays on account of references between the local officials and the BRO headquarters and defense ministry. Apart from this, the local level officers would have more financial autonomy to purchase local as well as imported construction equipment of up to $15 million.

    The delay in India's road and rail projects along China border has been blamed on a number of reasons including bureaucratic inefficiency, lack of funding, environmental clearances, absence of heavy machinery and airlift capabilities for the BRO.

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