In a meeting with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) held late last week, India has agreed to give about 2,000 kilometres of road along the Chinese border to JICA. JICA will be providing financial assistance as well as technical expertise to construct and improvise the roads. BRO has about 5,000 km of road under its supervision.
Situated mostly along the North Eastern states and Uttarakhand, these roads are of strategetic importance to India. Improving NH 39 between Imphal and Kohima, roads between Maram and Dimapur and Ukhrul and Tadubi in Manipur, Shillong and Dauki and construction of Dauki bridge in Meghalaya are some of the projects that JICA will be undertaking. Barring Arunachal Pradesh, border roads along all the other North East states will be done by JICA.
The decision of taking away some of the border roads from the BRO has been doing round of the corridors of power in the transport ministry for more than a year now. Last year, the ministry had decided to give some of the roads to PWD. However, the deal could not be finalised then.
Now with Japan sharing its expertise on building bridges, tunnels and constructing roads on hilly region, it will build about 2,000 kilometres of roads along the border, some of which are also strategetic roads for India. "The Japanese agency has suggested to us that instead of just laying roads, the roads on the hills should have
more bridges and tunnels. That makes them withstand any natural and human calamity. We are exploring those options," said an officer of the ministry.
The ministry is also of the view that BRO is overburdened and needs to share its roads work. "BRO is a part of transport ministry and is involved in building and maintaining national highways. JICA will help ease out BRO's burden," added the officer.
The road has also been taken away from BRO, because the Japanese government policy does not permit the country to take up any project in another country which involves working with armed forces. "If roads continue to be with BRO, then we will not get technical and financial assistance from Japan. The road is only being taken away temporarily. It will be handed over to BRO after the completion of work," added the officer.