Centre accepts Shekatkar recommendations to boost border roads projects
The government has made it mandatory to adhere to the engineering procurement contract
The Central government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations relating to border infrastructure made by the Shekatkar Committee in 2016.
The recommendations accepted were aimed at speeding up road construction in remote areas, providing easier access to the military and leading to socio economic development in the border areas. First, the government has implemented the Shekatkar Committee recommendation to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
This is aimed at bringing in private sector road construction agencies and taking the load off a heavily overstretched BRO, which is struggling to maintain the existing network of borders roads and highways; while also building new roads to areas that have remained outside the road network since independence.
To ensure oversight, the government has made it mandatory to adhere to the engineering procurement contract (EPC) for executing all projects that cost more than Rs 100 crore. Second, the government has accepted a Shekatkar Committee recommendation that makes it easier to introduce modern construction plant, equipment and machinery.
For this, the BRO’s enhanced procurement powers for domestic and foreign procurements have been increased from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore. This is deemed essential with the BRO engaged in sophisticated road and tunnel construction projects, such as the Atal Behari Vajpayee Tunnel near Manali that underpasses the Rohtang Pass, and the 80-km-long road on the Amarnath Yatra route from Dharchula (Uttarakhand) to Lipulekh (China Border).
The BRO is also introducing advanced new technologies to speed up construction, such as precision blasting, use of geo-textiles for soil stabilisation, using cementitious base for pavements and plastic coated aggregates for surfacing.
Finally, completing land acquisition and obtaining statutory clearances such as forest and environmental clearance will now be pre-requisites for approving the detailed project report (DPR) for a new road. Work can be awarded only after at least 90 percent of the statutory clearances have been obtained.