Shekatkar panel recommendations accepted, big boost for infra along borders

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The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of the Committee of Experts (CoE) under the chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure. These were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio-economic development in the border areas of India.

Speaking to The Daily Guardian, Lt Gen Shekatkar (Retd) said, “It is a positive step taken by the government which was due to be taken 50 years ago.” Expressing his satisfaction he thanked the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and said, “After the former defence minister late Manohar Parrikar brought back the focus of the government on the road development in border areas, the government has taken a very strong step that will enhance infrastructure in India’s border areas and will create more opportunities for the development of states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and many Northeastern states.

The result of this decision will be visible in the next five years” On the matter related to creating border infrastructure, the MoD has implemented recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

It has been made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore. The other recommendation relating to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.

Border Roads has recently inducted Hot-Mix Plant 20/30 TPH for speedier laying of roads, remote operated hydraulic Rock Drills DC-400 R for hard rock cutting, a range of F-90 series of self-propelled snow-cutters/blowers for speedier snow clearance. New technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction.

With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works. The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR).

Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE, regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.

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