50 yrs after war, road that troubled Army remains tricky as ever
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"We understand that the people are having a tough time. But we are also working against various odds to complete the double-laning as early as possible," said Brig Rohit Kapoor, chief engineer of Project Vartak, the BRO wing responsible for roads in western Arunachal Pradesh.
The BRO is struggling with a shortage of boulders, labour and stone-crushers. "While we require about six lakh cubic metres of boulders per year, we are currently getting only about two lakh cubic metres," Brig Kapoor said. In the absence of large stone-crushers, a major portion of work is being done manually.
"Acute shortage of labour is another problem. Earlier we used to get thousands of labourers from Jharkhand, Orissa and other states. But with various ongoing projects there, very few labourers are actually coming to this remote area," Brig Kapoor said. Arunachal Pradesh being sparsely populated, there is very little availability of local labour.
Going by the requirement of 6,000 workers for each of the three Task Forces along the road, the BRO's total requirement of labourers stands at around 18,000. "Currently we are hardly getting about 30 per cent," Brig Kapoor said.
The weather often plays havoc, with six to months of rains in the lower reaches and two-three months of snowfall in the upper region, leaving hardly two or three months of actual working time. "Moreover, we cannot stop the traffic flow while carrying out the work. And with the Eastern Himalayas being relatively young and unstable, landslides often block the road for days," the chief engineer added.
Another problem arises out of a wildlife sanctuary that the road touches between Bhalukpong and Tenga. Environment clearance for parts of the highway is still pending.
Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and Governor J J Singh have urged the Centre to expedite the road construction work. Tuki, who met the prime minister recently, also pressed for speeding up construction of an alternative road from Tawang to Guwahati through Bhutan.
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