Govt accepts Shekatkar panel recommendations on border infrastructure

defence minister Rajnath Singh

Taking further the ongoing process of accepting and implementing the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee, the government has given its nod to three key suggestions on strengthening the infrastructure in border areas of the country.

The decision comes days after Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had approved the proposal to abolish over 9,300 posts of the Military Engineering Services (MES), the infrastructure development agency for armed forces and defence establishments.

In mid-2016, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had ordered the constitution of the Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Lt Gen Shekatkar (Retd) with a mandate to ‘suggest measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces.’ The CoE submitted its report in December 2016.

Ministry of Defence officials said on Monday that the Union government has approved recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

 It has been made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works which cost more than Rs 100 crore.

The other recommendation pertaining to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers for the budgetary limits of Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.

BRO has recently inducted state-of-the-art machinery for speedier laying of roads, hard rock cutting and speedier snow clearance.

A press statement from the Ministry of Defence said, “New technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of geo-textiles for soil stabilisation, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction.

 With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works.”

 The release added, “The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR).

Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.”