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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurates six strategic bridges along Pakistan border

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NEW DELHI: Strengthening connectivity in sensitive border areas close to the International Border and Line of Control with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, six strategic bridges were inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday. The bridges will not only ensure quick mobility of the armed forces, but also economic growth in the region.

The bridges, which were inaugurated by the Defence Minister over video conferencing from Delhi, were completed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at a cost of Rs 43 crore, according to the defence ministry. Two bridges have been constructed over the Tarnah Nallah in the Kathua district, while the remaining four are located on the Akhnoor-Pallanwala road in the Jammu district. They span from 30 to 300 metres. “These bridges will facilitate the movement of the armed forces in this strategically important sector and will also contribute towards the overall economic growth of remote border areas,” the ministry said.

Singh congratulated the BRO for constructing the six bridges in record time. He reiterated the government’s commitment to prioritise development activities in J&K, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is regularly monitoring the progress of these projects and adequate funds are being provided for their timely execution.

“Continued construction of roads and bridges in the border areas of the country with total commitment by BRO would help in realisation of the efforts of the government to reach to the remotest areas. Roads in the border areas are not only strategic strengths, but also act to connect remote areas with the mainstream. Be it a strategic necessity of the armed forces or other development work related to health, education, trade, all these are possible only with connectivity,” he said.

Singh said that other development projects for the people of J&K and the armed forces are in the pipeline. About 1,000 km long roads are currently under construction in Jammu region. He acknowledged that the BRO has completed road surfacing of about 4,200 km and constructed about 5,800 m of permanent bridges. He assured the BRO that the government has ensured that sufficient resources are provided to it for the construction of strategic roads. “Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, the government will not let the resources of BRO fall short,” the ministry said.

The ministry said that there has been a major surge in outcomes delivered by the BRO in the last few years. The BRO has executed about 30 per cent more works in 2019-20 as compared to 2018-19. “This has happened because of adequate budgetary support from the government and due to the effect of structural reforms and dedicated efforts by the BRO,” it said.

The annual budget of the BRO that varied from Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 4,600 crore from 2008 to 2016, witnessed a substantial rise to Rs 8,050 crore in 2019-2020. With the government’s focus on improving infrastructure in border areas, the budget for 2020-2021 is likely to be Rs 11,800 crore. This will give a major boost to ongoing projects and will expedite the construction of strategic roads, bridges and tunnels along the northern borders.

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