Centre tells BRO to leave 'red zone' in central India

Centre tells BRO to leave 'red zone' in central India

A bulk of the unfinished road —68 km to be precise—falls in the heartland of Chhattisgarh’s Naxal zones where good road connectivity significantly contributes to ferrying paramilitary forces and logistic support to far flung areas.

More than three years ago, the BRO was brought to central India with the purpose of laying a 293-km all-weather four-lane road on the NH-16, spanning Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. NH-16 connects Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh to Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh after passing through a stretch in Maharashtra.

The BRO started its project Hirak to join km 199 (Chennur in Andhra Pradesh) to km 492 (Sosanpal in Chhattisgarh) on National Highway 16.

A project headquarters was set up in Nagpur and two road construction companies were deployed at Sironcha in Maharashtra and Karli in Chhattisgarh. Three years later, the BRO completed only 188.48 km of road, leaving more than 105 km to the state public works departments.

“These two branches will be closed down soon in order to shift the manpower to strategic roads. No more branches are proposed to be set up,” said Defence Minister A K Antony.

‘Easy terrain’
BRO Director-General Lt Gen M C Budhani said central India is an easy terrain in which the state public works departments can finish the remaining portion.

Naxal problems existed even before the BRO was deployed there. Steps had been taken to tackle the threat both through the BRO’s own security personnel from the Territorial Army and on and off through state police personnel, he said.

The work was initially halted due to militant attacks on BRO personnel. The Bombay High Court took note of the attacks suo motu and asked the government to provide police protection to BRO personnel who are working in Gadchiroli and Gondia regions.

The 92 km of finished roads includes a section that passes through the Naxal hot spots in Bastar region. The BRO has sought the government’s permissions to complete the bridges before withdrawing fully from the Naxal corridors.

After closing down Project Hirak in April 2010, the BRO had started transferring its heavy machinery to Project Sewak in Dimapur, Nagaland.