New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday inaugurated two centres of excellence of the Border Roads Organisation that have been set up to foster growth in the construction of roads, bridges, airfields and tunnels as well as to ensure road safety.
One of the centres will institutionalise the knowledge gained by the BRO over the years in the development of almost 60,000 kilometres of roads, 56,000 metres of bridges, 19 airfields and four tunnels in the eastern and north-western parts of the country, officials said.
The two centres have been established at the BRO headquarters in the national capital.
'These centres have been established to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, airfields and tunnels,' the defence ministry said.
The first-ever solo woman motorcycle expedition by Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass in Ladakh was also flagged off on the occasion.
Officials said she will cover 17 mountain passes, some of which are located at more than 15,000 ft altitude. At 19,300 feet, the Umlingla pass is one of the world's highest motorable passes.
In his address on the occasion, Singh appreciated the efforts of the BRO in establishing the two centres and expressed confidence that they will play a pivotal role in saving precious lives.
Terming road accidents a silent pandemic that claims around 1.5 lakh lives every year, he said the government has taken a number of initiatives such as the National Road Safety Policy, the Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways to tackle the problem.
'Accidents on roads are a cause of great concern for us today,' he said.
Singh also lauded the role played by the BRO in the progress of the nation since its inception by building roads, tunnels and other infrastructure in remote areas.
He praised the BRO for working tirelessly in rough weather conditions to increase connectivity in border areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Describing connectivity as an essential component of a nation's progress, he said the BRO is catering to the needs of the Armed Forces as well as working towards the socio-economic development of the border areas.
'For connectivity, our BRO personnel have been working tirelessly and tirelessly even in the midst of difficulties like severe winter, heat, rain and snowfall. In the last five-seven years, the BRO has made remarkable achievements,' Singh said.
The defence minister especially mentioned the recent achievements of the BRO including the construction of the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang and Zojila Pass.
Singh also talked about the various measures taken by the government for the development of the BRO.
These include an increase in the BRO's budget, approval of special high-altitude clothing for the personnel of the organisation as well as cadre review to boost the morale of its workforce.
He assured the BRO of continued support of the Ministry of Defence, saying the government remains committed to the progress of the far-flung areas of the country. He also remembered the BRO personnel who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.
The defence minister also launched four software developed to optimise the work efficiency of BRO personnel, the organisation's human resource management, recruitment management and enrolment-related issues.
The BRO has created the software to reduce paperwork with a focus on minimising the carbon footprint.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were among the dignitaries present on the occasion. PTI MPB DIV DIV