Monday, August 25, 2014

Let us build roads to the borders: sixty-four years later

Border Road Organisation 2011
Everyday, one reads in the Indian press about the poor infrastructure in the border regions, particularly in areas facing China in the Himalayas.
Last week, I already wrote on this blog about the 'Neglected Borders of India'.
Today, I am posting a note by the Indian Prime Minister addressed to V.K. Krishna Menon, the  Defence Minister on January 20, 1960.
Please read it carefully, you will see that nothing much has changed during the last sixty-four years! 
Nehru suggested the creation of the Border Road Organisation, which has, for different reasons, become the stumbling block in road development in border areas.
It is rather strange that the Prime Minister is thinking of using 'old machinery' for building roads in most difficult terrains. He should have suggested the use of the latest technologies.
Will the Modi Sarkar be able to change this trend?
Certainly not with the present structure.

Note from Jawaharlal Nehru to Krishna Menon
January 20, 1960
[From the Selected Work of Jawaharlal Nehru, Series II, Volume 56, page 378-79, published by Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund]

You will remember that the question of our border areas came up before the Cabinet sometime ago. There were two aspects of it: One was the building of
roads and the other was the development of those areas in other ways. So far as the development is concerned, certain tentative proposals have been made for a reorganisation of the administrative apparatus there so that some good and experienced officers may be put in charge of smaller areas than at present and should be given a good deal of authority and latitude to proceed with the development. Naturally, funds for this development will largely come from the Centre. This matter will come up before the Cabinet soon.

2. The Cabinet Secretary was put in charge of a committee to deal with these border areas and report to the Cabinet. He is reporting soon about the development of the border areas. When I asked him about the roads and communications, he said that the paper had been sent to the Defence Ministry about two weeks ago and it was still there. Will you please look into this matter and have it expedited so that Cabinet might consider any proposals that are being made?

3. To name the roads required in some order of priority can of course be done without much difficulty. The question, however, is how we can expedite the building of these roads. The normal PWD methods are very slow and we cannot afford to wait for several years before these roads are completed. I had a talk with you about this matter sometime ago. You had then suggested that it would be desirable, in order to expedite the building of these roads, to divide them up into three categories: (1) the Central PWD; (2) State PWD; and (3) some other agency [The Border Roads Organisation was started in July 1960] to be created for the purpose. I am not taking into consideration here those roads which might be called operational and which inevitably will be under the charge of the army engineers.

4. About the third category, i.e. some other agency, to build these roads, it is for us to consider what kind of an agency we can create. Probably it will not be wholly desirable to put them regularly under the army engineers, although army engineers may well be used for the purpose. Possibly, a separate labour corps might be recruited, and some army engineers attached to it. This method would probably be cheaper. Also, some of our old machinery for building or levelling etc. which we have with us at present might be used after some reconditioning.

5. This will have to be considered by the Cabinet. I should like your Ministry to give thought to this and prepare a paper on the subject as soon as possible.

1 comment:

RAJ47 said...

I seriously thought it was a very old photo.
What apathy!
The Border Roads should be asked to explain its budget.
Its the most corrupt organisation in the Indian Army today.
The area should be made accessible to all. Nehruvian era special rules should be abolished.