Border Roads granted boosted financial powers to improve border connectivity - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 20 August 2017

Border Roads granted boosted financial powers to improve border connectivity

Concern at tardy road building on northern border, while China races on

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 21st Aug 17

With the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) far behind schedule in constructing 73 approved “Indo-China Border Roads” along the northern borders, the defence ministry on Sunday empowered BRO officials with enhanced financial powers.

The Chief Engineers, key officials who head BRO projects spread across the border states – with project names like Himank (Ladakh), Vartak (Arunachal Pradesh) and Beacon (Kashmir) – will now enjoy enhanced financial powers that are 5-10 times more than their earlier financial limits.

The defence ministry states this will “avoid delays on account of references between the Chief Engineer and HQ DGBR (Headquarters, Director General Border Roads) and also between HQ DGBR and the Ministry.”

BRO’s road building has lagged, while China has constructed a wide-spread network of roads that allow their troops to reach the border quickly on vehicles. In contrast, Indian foot patrols must march long distances to reach the same areas.

With only 27 roads completed of the 73 “strategic roads” approved for the Sino-Indian border, the defence minister assured Parliament on July 28 that the balance roads would be completed by December 2022.

The earlier financial powers permitted a Chief Engineer to approval “departmental works” up to Rs 10 crore, and the ADGBR (Assistant Director General Border Roads) up to Rs 20 crore. All “contractual works” had to be referred to the DGBR, who could sanction expenditure only up to Rs 50 crore.

Enhancing financial powers at all levels, the defence ministry “has now approved that for both departmental and contractual mode of execution, a Chief Engineer of BRO can accord administrative approval up to Rs 50 crore, ADGBR upto Rs 75 crore and DGBR up to Rs 100 crore.

For regular contracting, a Chief Engineer’s powers have been enhanced tenfold from Rs 10 crore to Rs 100 crore; the ADGBR’s powers fifteen-fold from Rs 20 crore to Rs 300 crore; and the DGBR’s powers for contracts above Rs 300 crore.

Decentralised financial powers for Border Roads

(all figures in Rupees)

Chief Engineer
ADG Border Roads
DG Border Roads


Administrative approval of works
10 crore*
50 crore^
20 crore*
75 crore^
50 crore^
100 crore^

Execution of contracts
10 crore
100 crore
20 crore
300 crore
Above 20 crore
Above 300 crore

Outsourcing of consultancy
10 lakhs
2 crore
50 lakhs
5 crore
2 crore
Above 5 crore

Procurement of indigenous    construction equipment
7.5 crore
100 crore

Procurement of imported construction equipment
3 crore
100 crore

*          Only for Departmental Works
^          For Departmental and Contractual Works

“With this delegation, the entire tendering process including acceptance of bids would be completed at the level of Chief Engineer/ADGBR for a majority of the contracts”, stated the defence ministry.

In a useful departure from the earlier policy, the DGBR has been granted full powers to determine the usage norms and life span of construction equipment, which was hitherto done by the defence ministry. For example, if the DGBR assesses that a bulldozer operating at 16,000 feet altitude in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector would have a reduced life span compared to one operating at 11,000 feet near Leh, he is now empowered to introduce the new norm.

In 2015, the BRO was transferred from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to the defence ministry to improve functioning. On May 6, 2013, the defence minister told parliament that the Cabinet had approved raising the BRO’s manpower strength to 42,646 personnel.

Despite attempts at reform, the BRO remains a divided organisation, with friction between BRO cadre officers, and army officers posted on deputation. The BRO cadre resents a large number of top executive and command positions going to the army.


  1. Both Border Roads Organization and the Indian Army are vital to the defense of our motherland. I entreat both to resolve all differences and urgently complete the roads vital to our national defence.

  2. Looks like having a common finance and defence minister is paying off. In the current scenario veteran 3 star officer probably have to cajole some joint secretary . That needs to change. We need to have a system with political appointee (defence minister) and rest of MoD essentially unformed staff. This will ensure discipline with frequent rotation of staff. Once you have uniformed guy who rotates between Kashimr-Delhi-Assam, the system will tidy up.
    The "civilian" defence staff in MoD must be done away with. All "civilian" employees of MoD including defence seceratary need to be members of territorial Army
    . Maybe this needs to be made compulsory for all UPSC cadre officers.
    The armed forces must allow organisations like BRO and coast guard to grow. Only then will pride in one's job & organization be allowed to develop. Even if there army officers on deputation to BRO they need to report BRO officers.

  3. This is called 'digging a well, after a fire breaks out'. That too, a small borewell to put out a massive fire.

  4. More money to be made.

  5. Like the rest of the Indian Government organisations , the BDO is useless and unable even to fulfill 50% of its targets.
    These organisations related to the defence of India, including its armed forces cannot be separated from Indias prevailing inefficient and corrupt system.
    India is many years behind China, it should avoid conflict till the time it becomes a world class economy.
    Forty children dead due to lack of oxygen, vast swathes of India with a standard of living, infant morality etc...below sub Sahara Africa.
    A communal undemocratic culture in which the inequality of women is just one manifestation. A wounded civilisation with 40% open defecating and 40 % without a regular or no electricity supply.


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