‘Not Maoists, procedural hassles pose roadblock’


New Delhi : Procedural hassles and not Maoist guerrillas have caused delay in road construction work in the Left extremism-hit areas of central India, the chief of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) that was tasked with the project said Wednesday.

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“No doubt there is the Naxalite problem… They (Maoists) have burnt our machines a couple of times. But that is not an issue. We have been getting a lot of local support there. The issue is procedural delay like forest clearance and land acquisition,” Director General BRO Lt. Gen. M.C. Bhadani told reporters here.

He was speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the army-controlled organisation.

Pointing out that the project would be handed over to the state government soon, Bhadani said: “But, we want to complete 2-3 bridges currently under construction. I have taken up the matter with the state government.”

His remarks came amid reports that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Chhattisgarh had criticised the slow pace of the road work.

The BRO, created in 1960, is responsible for constructing and maintaining roads and infrastructure near the border areas of the country. It has helped in accelerating the economic development of north and northeastern border states like Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim.

The BRO was tasked to construct the 144-km stretch of road running through the red belt of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. The deadline for Project Hirak expires this year even as some 40 km of the stretch is yet to be laid.

The road work in the Maoist-affected areas was given to the BRO in 2008 after civil contractors refused to take up the jobs.

The border roads constructing agency has come under Maoist attacks many times but Bhadani said none of their men were hurt.

The BRO has, over the years, earned the reputation of being the only road construction agency to maintain roads in difficult and inhospitable terrain and climate by constructing 48,300 km roads, nearly 35,000 metres of bridges, and 19 airfields — both within the country and abroad.