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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

‘It was a question of prioritising… Plus the govt focus is to integrate all remote areas’: DG BRO on Atal Tunnel

Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Director General, BRO: "Of course, there are strategic advantages of this tunnel as it will increase the accessibility to Ladakh, but then we are also completing a road project on Darcha-Padam-Nimu axis with the same aim."

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | September 6, 2020 4:25:09 am
Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Director General, BRO

What is the significance of the Atal Tunnel project?

It is a project which aims to give a better life to the residents of Lahaul and Spiti Valley. When former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visualised the project, the betterment of the people was the primary aim.

What strategic implications does this tunnel have?

Any strategic benefit is a by-product of the aim to help residents of Spiti Valley get round the year connectivity with the country. Of course, there are strategic advantages of this tunnel as it will increase the accessibility to Ladakh, but then we are also completing a road project on Darcha-Padam-Nimu axis with the same aim.

How difficult was it to complete the project during a pandemic?

We encountered the Covid-19 pandemic just when we were approaching the finishing line. There were delays as manpower could not be arranged and material could not be transported. However, after the initial lockdown we took up our case with the Himachal Pradesh government, and with their help we managed to make up for the lost time.

What is the status of the Darcha-Padam-Nimu link to Ladakh?

The Darcha-Padam-Nimu road is already being used by locals with 4X4 vehicles. For the first time after Independence, Zanskar is now connected to Manali and beyond. This opens up tourism opportunities.

Lately, the BRO has completed several pending projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the Northeast.

It was a question of prioritising the projects and approaching them in a systematic manner. Timelines were set up for projects and monitoring was done to ensure that the deadlines were met. The collective efforts and involvement of states, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Defence and the budgetary support of the Ministry of Finance made it possible. Plus, the government focus is to integrate all remote areas.

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