New Delhi, January 25, 2013:
Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) understands very well that strategically how important is it for India to construct road along China border. But ITBP is unhappy about the slow pace of the road construction in Sikkim and Uttarakhand.
In Sikkim, the progress is about 30% in the case of Dombang to Gorala Road while it’s 25% on Giagang-Kerang Road stretch. The progress is worst on the Thangu-Muguthang stretch at 5%.
Sources said that the ITBP is unhappy with the poor progress on the new stretches that are being constructed by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in these two states and there are chances that the border police would prefer not to give any such work to the agency in future.
Government had launched the programme to build 27 link roads totaling 804 km in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at a cost of Rs 1,937 crore and the works were originally targeted to be completed by this March end.
While CPWD has got eight projects, Border Roads Organization (BRO) is involved in 15 projects. National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC) has two roads and Himachal PWD has another two roads. ITBP sources said that while the total progress of construction in the case of CPWD is about 40% and bitumen laying work is yet to start; two projects by NPCC covering almost 145 km in Jammu and Kashmir are 91% complete.
CPWD officials said they have tough terrains to work both in Uttarakhand and Sikkim which are located at altitude as high as 17,500 ft. For example the Siagang to Kerang road is perhaps the stretch that passes through country’s second highest altitude. Officially, the Khardung La (Khardung Pass) in Leh is a motorable road at the highest altitude.
“We are constructing roads facing major climatic constraints. Moving man and machinery is very difficult and you have short period to carry out construction,” said a source. Officials said that they are using the granular sub base or inverted choke design to build these roads. This design ensures drainage of all water that accumulates on the surface or passes through layers. “If the water is not drained out quickly, then there is fear of the water becoming ice. Any such formation below the bituminous stretch causes early damage of the road,” said an engineer involved in such projects.
Constructing these stretches are crucial for supply of food and other essential items for the ITBP forces deployed along the border. As present animals are used to transport goods and in the worst case ITBP personnel carry items with them.