BRO projects stuck in bureaucracy, China on infrastructure building madness: The Tribune India
Tribune press service
New Delhi, June 18
Even as China quickly builds infrastructure on its side across the Real Line of Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) has expressed serious concerns about the delays. procedure hampering its projects in UT.
Sources at the Ministry of Defense confirmed that the BRO had recently briefed the ministry on the difficulties it was facing. This is to delay obtaining authorizations under environmental and wildlife laws.
The Defense Ministry has raised the issue with all stakeholders to resolve the issue taking into account projects of national importance, the sources said. An official pointed out that in November 2014, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had granted blanket approval under
Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, to accelerate forest clearing for the management border infrastructure works. This required that no prior authorization from the Environmental Impact Assessment Board was required to erect infrastructure within 100 km of air distance from the LAC. The exemption consisted in starting the work and then requesting exemptions and authorizations. The ordinance also allowed the diversion of land for the construction of strategic roads.
Notably, this exemption does not apply to wildlife protection issues under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Each project requires an independent biodiversity impact assessment by an expert committee, which submits a report to the National Board of Wildlife.
The Ladakh plateau had experienced great battles during the 1962 war. An area of some 9,000 km² (15.22%) in Ladakh is protected by wildlife reserves. Some of them include mountain ridges which are strategically vital and offer a deep view of the ALC in Tibet.
A proposal to remove the blanket ban on building infrastructure was first put forward in 2012, but unofficial members of the National Board for Wildlife protested. Earlier in October 2011, an independent animal population survey was carried out.
Meanwhile, China, on similar terrain and ecology on the Tibetan side, has moved forward to provide all-weather connectivity.