The J&K highways issue came up at a recent meeting chaired by the lieutenant governor. Manoj Sinha who has urged the general director (highways) to resolve the problems between two organizations, said a source. TOI learned that the UT administration has entrusted the task of seven of the 11 highway projects to the Border Roads Organization (BRO) and, due to the ongoing dispute, the remaining four works have been put on hold. Sources said Sinha raised the concern at a review meeting where officials from the BRO, the Ministry of Road Transport and NHIDCL were present.
The sources also said that NHIDCL has taken on the task of preparing project reports for the tunnels at the Khardung-la, Fotu-la and Namki-la passes in Ladakh, although the sections have been entrusted to the BRO. “All of this has resulted in two organizations preparing different plans for the same tranches despite the government’s approach to integrated planning and execution of infrastructure projects,” said a central government official.
Similarly, both agencies are preparing detailed project reports (DPR) for double tube tunnels under the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam. While the NHIDCL is preparing the DPR for a 15.6 km double tube tunnel, the BRO is preparing a similar 7 km road rail tunnel. Both agencies have stated that their DPRs are in an advanced stage. The NHIDCL tunnel plans to connect Gohpur with Numaligarh in Assam, while the BRO project plans to connect the strategically important Misamari and Tezpur.
The issue of the tunnel proposed by NHIDCL came up at a meeting recently chaired by the secretary of road transport. He has directed the NHIDCL managing director to discuss the matter with the defense chief of staff to support his plan, as it is a “strategically important” proposal before preparing a draft note for the cabinet security committee.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the NHIDCL stated that when the matter of the two tunnel projects was brought before the Ministry of Defense, it was decided that BRO should not go ahead like the NHIDCL ‘s DPR it is in an advanced stage.
During his recent visit to Delhi, Assam’s Prime Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had urged the Defense Minister Rajnath singh approve the underground tunnel proposed by BRO. Tezpur is the headquarters of the 4th Army Corps that oversees Arunachal Pradesh and is also the gateway to Tawang on the India-China border.
Both agencies had recently prepared two proposals for another tunnel at the Shinkun-la pass in Ladakh. But the Defense Ministry gave the green light to the BRO’s proposal.