Thursday, August 11, 2005

BRO: Unsung heroes of Independent India


The term martyr brings us an image of soldier dieing on battlefield. However, if one were to embark on serpentine roads of any high altitude border terrain, it does not take long to dawn upon the futility of term martyr - applicable only for wartime heroes. Here at altitude of 10,000 ft plus with steep inaccessible Himalayan Mountains on one side and deep gorge opposite; countless workers, engineers create a Herculean task of carving roads out of inhospitable and difficult terrain.

The organization that does this task without due recognition or media publicity is Border Roads Organization (BRO).

At every difficult cantilever bridge, one realizes that these bridges are not just built by mortal ingredients of steel, concrete, but also with the sweat, blood of men of the Border Roads Organization of India. And this comes with steep price beyond monetary value. In one year alone BRO loses hundreds of its valiant men to militancy, natural calamity and road accidents in difficult terrains. These men who always are in the shadow of death do posses great sense of humor. This is reflected in many warning traffic signs that admonish drivers against reckless driving. These unsung heroes who come from all parts of India, contribute their knowledge, skills and mite to the defense of their motherland.

The Border Roads Organization (BRO) was brainchild of Pandit Nehru. Launched in May 1960, it has now grown into an organization that has constructed nearly 30,000 kms of roads by cutting through rocks and created 12,000 plus meters of permanent bridges by sheer ingenuity of engineering. Today, BRO is also building airfields, hospitals in high altitude terrains. If building roads and bridges were not enough, they are engaged in clearing snow in winter and in landslides in monsoon. The daredevil spirit of BRO is admirable when they slog subzero temperatures and in conditions almost beyond human endurance to keep crucial mountain passes open throughout the year and keep the hostile border accessible to artillery support and supplies. Had it not been for BRO; Ladakh, higher peaks of Himachal, the Kashmir Valley and the dizzying heights of Sikkim may not have ever been part of India.

When next time, you travel to border areas of India and see a sign board of “ Border Road Organization “, Don’t treat this as another construction and contracting company but a spirit that imbibe “Shramen Sarvam Sadhyam” .

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