BRO: Erasing boundaries

[ Tongam Rina ]

The Border Roads Organization (BRO) prides itself on cutting down mountains to connect hearts in the border areas of the state. It is also known for substandard work as bridges and border roads often collapse, disconnecting the state during monsoon.

Though it is not often reported, the organization tasked with connecting the hilly state with the rest of the country is also known for corruption, leading to delay in completion of its projects. The equipments used are outdated, which means that workers – underpaid and exploited – continue to risk their lives.

While the labour camps are made with banana leaves which can’t withstand strong weather, and sometimes with plastic sheets, go to any border town where the organization is based and they have stories of how their homes were built with materials sold by the BRO officials.

For long, Arunachal has ignored the quality of work, corruption and treatment of workers, especially of women and children, by the BRO. It is not a surprise that the BRO took the people of the state for granted by erasing the name of Kimin in Arunachal, thereby merging it with Assam, during a visit by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The BRO knows that it has gotten away with a lot of things in the state with no ramifications, so they took a step further by erasing the name altogether.

However, it miscalculated the fact that everything else in Arunachal is ignored and often accepted, but undermining the Arunachalee identity is inviting a crisis that can’t be wiped away with a half-baked apology.

Oblivious to the indigenous and Arunachalee identity, the BRO did what it thought was best, and has gotten away so far, and will get away.

However, even for an arrogant and ignorant organization that has been out of touch with modernization, mechanization or with the Arunachalee society, the BRO’s recent behaviour undermined the state itself.

It’s not as easy as erasing the tribal names of places by renaming them or building Shiva and Hanuman temples on roadsides or building colonies exclusively for its officers, ignoring the plight of the workers.

The political fallout of the BRO’s misdemeanour is being felt in the state, though it is unlikely that there will be a major political repercussion any time soon, as Chief Minister Pema Khandu has the upper hand in the state’s politics.

However, the entire issue has brought to the fore the importance of the Assam-Arunachal boundary issue once again. It’s a pan-Arunachal, sensitive and highly emotive issue; therefore, there is no scope for mistake.

Whatever may have been the intention of the BRO or the strategic decision of the ministry of defence, the boundary issue has to be respected by the government of India and its agents. For now, consequences are being felt at the local level, but if the boundary is erased for strategic convenience, it won’t remain an Arunachalee issue. The heat will be felt across the boundaries in the region, international borders, and in Delhi.

Union urges govt to not succumb to pressure in constructing East-West Industrial Corridor

ITANAGAR, 6 Jul: The All Arunachal Pradesh Border Students’ Union has appealed to the central as well as the state government to not succumb to pressure from any quarter in constructing the ambitious East-West Industrial Corridor in Arunachal.

The union said that “some NGOs and Bollywood celebrities” are opposing the construction of the road via the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) and demanding “diversion of the road from Pakke-Kessang towards Seppa, Zero Point (Nechiphu trijunction) to connect

¬†with Bhalukpong in West Kameng district.”

As per the DPR, the road, which will connect Seijosa in Pakke-Kessang district with Bhalukpong, would pass through the PTR.

Urging those who are opposing the road alignment to not create hurdles in the construction of the road, the union said that the highway would drastically change the economy of the state, once it is completed.

The union also appealed to the public representatives, leaders and stakeholders of Pakke-Kessang district to not support the demand for diversion of the road.

The union on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, urging him to immediately float a global e-tender for the project.

Stating that it would stand by the government till the completion of the project, the union further said that it would launch a series of democratic movements “if there is any discrepancy and deviation with regard to the alignment of the road from Seijosa to Bhalukpong via the PTR under any pressure from politicians or third parties.”