Border Roads Organisation
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|Formation||7 May 1960|
|Purpose||Civil engineering infrastructural development in difficult areas|
|India, Bhutan, Myanmar.|
|Lt. Gen.Harpal Singh |
|Ministry of Defence|
|$ 732 million|
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighbouring countries. It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army's Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment. Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation. Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country. Presently, BRO is also involved in the construction of a tunnel at the Rohtang pass which is estimated to be ready by 2019.
The BRO divides its job between the following task forces: Arunank, Beacon, Brahmank, Chetak, Deepak, Dantak, Himank, Hirak, Pushpak, Sampark, Setuk, Sewak, Shivalik, Swastik, Udayak, Vartak, and Vijayak.
The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India's borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country. In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman. Today, the board exercises the financial and other powers of a Department of Government of India and is chaired by the Raksha Rajya Mantri (RRM). Among others, Chief(s) of Army and Air Staff, Engineer-in-Chief, DGBR, FA(DS) are members of the BRDB. The Secretary of the Board exercises the powers of Joint Secretary to the Government of India. The executive head of the GREF is the DGBR who holds the rank of Lieutenant General. In a bid to boost border connectivity, the Border Roads Organisation has been entirely brought under the Ministry of Defence. Earlier it received funds from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
The BRO consists of Border Roads Wing in the Ministry of Defence and the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF). GREF—the execution force—under the Ministry of Defence, officers from Indian Army Corps of Engineers, who are posted to GREF on ERE. The status of GREF is equivalent to that of JAKLI in the Indian Army. The GREF includes civil, electrical, mechanical engineers, administrative officers, medical officers and Hindi officers. Engineers are selected from engineering colleges across India through the Indian Engineering Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Other Officers also includes administrative officers, medical officers who are also selected through UPSC and placed under THE ARMY ACT, 1950 and Army Rules, 1954 with exceptions and modifications vide SRO 329 and 330 of 1960 and SRO 1001 of 1961 for equivalent ranks of GREF with regular army. Members of GREF are the members of Armed Forces within meaning of Article 33 of the Constitution of India as defined by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of R. Viswan V/S Union of India and the President declared GREF as integral part of armed forces. Members of GREF are entitled to ration at par with regular army and drawing from ASC units located nearest to GREF units. Members of GREF will continue to remain members of Armed Forces even if they are governed by CCS (CCA) Rules 1965.
A question arose in respect of R. Viswan v/s Union of India 1983, "WHETHER General Reserve Engineering Force is an armed force — The question is whether Sec 21 of the Army Act, 1950, read with Chapter 1V of the Army Rules, 1954 is within scope and ambit of Article 33 of the Constitution and if it is, whether Central Government notification Nos S.R.O. 329 and 330 dated 23 September 1960 making inter alia Sec 21 of the Army Act, 1950 and Chapter 1v of the Army Rules, 1954 applicable to General Reserve Engineering Force are ultra-vires of that Article since the General Reserve Engineering Force is neither an armed Force nor a Force charged with the maintenance of public order. It is a question of some importance since it affects the fundamental rights of large number of persons belonging to the General Reserve Engineering Force and in order to arrive at a correct decision of this question, it is necessary first of all to consider the true nature and character of the General Reserve Engineering Force. It is indisputable on the facts and circumstances that the function and duties of GREF are integrally connected with the operation plans and requirement of the Armed Forces and the members of GREF are integral to the Armed Forces. There can be no doubt that without the efficient and disciplined operational role of GREF the military operations in border areas during peace as well as in times of war will be seriously hampered and a highly disciplined and efficient GREF is absolutely essential for supporting the operational plans and meeting the operational requirements of the Armed Forces. It must, therefore be held that the members of GREF answer the description of the members of Armed Forces within meaning of Art. 33 and consequently the application of Sec. 21 of the Army Act 1950, to the members of GREF must be held to be protected by that Article and the Fundamental Rights of the members of GREF must be held to be validly restricted by Sec. 21 of Army Act 1950 read with Rules 19 to 21 of Army Rules 1954. If that be so, the petitioners were liable to be charged under Sec. 63 of the Army Act 1950 for the alleged violation of Rules 19 to 21 of Army Rules 1954 and their convictions by the Court-martial as also subsequent dismissal must be held to be valid.Chief Engineers of GREF have been empowered by means of issuing them A1 and A3 warrants by Chief of Army Staff and The Central government respectively for convening GCM and confirming findings and sentence. GREF Officers can also punish members of Regular Army under Ministry Of Defence SRO 1001 of dated 20 May 1961 as amended up to date.
The fundamental unit of the BRO is similar to a platoon. The functional platoon, composed of civil engineer officers from the GREF and civil engineers from the College of Military Engineering, Kirkee Pune, is in charge of activities such as formation cutting, surfacing, and safety mechanisms to maintain correct road geometry. BRO units also handle the construction of permanent and temporary bridges, causeways, and airfields.
The BRO includes 18 projects, which are divided into Task Forces, Road Construction Companies (RCCs), Bridge Construction Companies (BCCs), Drain Maintenance Companies (DMCs), and other functional platoons. The organisation also includes base workshops, store divisions, training and recruitment centers, and other staff.
The BRO is also in charge of maintenance of its road networks. In many places landslides, avalanches and snow block the routes and have to be cleared as quickly as possible. BRO also employs more than two lakh (200,000) local workers in the task.
An Internal Financial Advisor (IFA) supports the BRO, performing the roles of Chief Accounts Officer and Internal Auditor. This system was introduced on 23 March 1995 to introduce efficiency and improve resource utilisation. The IFA secured ISO 9001 certification in December 1999.
The BRO undertakes projects in India and friendly countries. These projects typically include developing roads, bridges, and airfields in hostile environments shunned by private enterprises, whether due to security concerns related to hostilities, or because of environmental challenges.
Disaster management and reconstruction
Overseas infrastructure development
Some of these projects carry out some of the development initiatives of the Indian government in foreign territories like Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Bhutan. These include the Delaram-Zaranj Highway in Afghanistan, completed and handed over to the Afghan government during 2008, and the restoration of the Farkhor and Ayni air bases in Tajikistan.
Border infrastructure development
In response to the ever-present security threat from Pakistan and increased incursions and rapid border infrastructure from China, India too is undertaking border infrastructure development.
As per July 2017 update to Lok Sabha from the Government of India, construction of 73 completed strategic roads along the Sino-India border was approved in 2005 with an initial and currently revised deadlines of 2012-2013 and 2019-2020 respectively, including 43 by the Ministry of Defence and 27 by the Ministry of Home Affairs, of which only 21 roads by March 2017 and 30 roads by July 2017 have been completed and remaining are under construction as progress was slowed down due to wildlife conservation and environmental approval, insurgency related security hurdles, delay in land acquisition by the states, inaccessible terrain, inclement weather, etc. BRO is constructing 63 out of these 73 roads as it costs BRO ₹15 million (US$220,000 or €190,000) to ₹30 million (US$440,000 or €370,000) per km compared to ₹60 million (US$870,000 or €750,000) to ₹70 million (US$1.0 million or €870,000) per km of road construction by the private companies. In two years alone, 2015–16 and 2016–17, prime minister Narendra Modi's government has allocated more than US$4.7 billion in contracts for the development of border roads, which also includes the US$256 million 1,360 kilometres (850 mi) India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway from Moreh in Manipur through Tamu, Myanmar to Mae Sot in Thailand.
To provide multiple points of alternative connectivity to the forces, BRO is building 410 2-lane class-70 (heavy load bearing including tanks) road bridged along the 3,440 km long McMahon Line border with China, including 144 in Arunachal Pradesh (75 already under construction and will be completed by 2020), 100 under construction in Jammu and Kashmir, 55 under construction in Uttrakhand, 40 under construction in Sikkim and 25 under construction in Himachal Pradesh (c. Dec 2017). The annual pace of construction is 3 km of bridges (c. Dec 2017).
In November 2017 BRO announced the plan to construct 17 road and rail tunnels, with a total length of 100 km, on some of the 73 strategic roads on Sino-Indian border to provide the year-round all-weather rail and road surface connectivity. Currently, surface access to high altitude posts on Sino-India border is closed for six months every year due to snowfall and rain, and supplies are through air lift only. Some of these 17 tunnels are already under construction, including Srinagar-Kargil-Leh NH1 in J&K (Zoji La pass tunnel), Leh-Manali Highway in J&K and Himachal Pradesh (Lungalacha La, Bara-lacha la, Tanglang La, Shingo La near Nimo and Rohtang Tunnel), 578 meter Theng Pass tunnel on NH310A between Chungthang and Tung in North Sikkim, Nechipu Pass (near Bomdila) and Sela Pass tunnels on Bogibeel Assam to Sagalee to Tawang NH13 in Arunachal Pradesh. This will reduce the travel time and operational costs, eliminate the risk of avalanche and landslide.
The organisation employs labourers locally. No local labourer is deployed in the GREF for more than 179 days at a stretch, thus keeping the nature of their employment casual.
- Project HIMANK
- Indian Army Corps of Engineers
- Trans-Arunachal Highway
- Mago-Thingbu to Vijaynagar Border Road
- Chota Char Dham Railway
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