Union minister Nitin Gadkari on 26 May 2020 lauded the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for achieving breakthrough in the 440-metre long tunnel below the busy Chamba town and termed it as an 'extraordinary feat' in nation-building during the pandemic. The BRO achieved the major milestone by successfully digging up the 440-metre long tunnel below the busy Chamba town on Rishikesh-Dharasu road, National Highway no 94, which will facilitate all-weather connectivity to Chardham - Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Badrinath - a Rs 12,000 crore ambitious project.
- The breakthrough was completed amidst threat of Covid-19 and nationwide lockdown.
- The breakthrough of this tunnel will go a long way in facilitating speedy movement of traffic, reducing congestion and distance to Chamba town and easing the movement of yatris on Chardham Yatra and bring economic prosperity.
- The latest Austrian technology has been used in construction of the Chamba tunnel. The tunnel will be through for traffic by October 2020 almost three months before its scheduled date of completion of January 2021.
- BRO has been working in some of the very difficult terrain and ensuring implementation of critical projects.
- BRO started the work on the North Portal of this tunnel in January 2019 but work on South Portal could be started only after October 2019 due to stiff resistance from locals on account of safety concerns and compensation issues.
- The loss in time was compensated by day and night working shifts along with use of modern technology.
- The Chamba tunnel is a Horse shoe type tunnel with 10 metre carriage way width and 5.5 metre vertical clearance.
- The sanctioned cost of this tunnel is Rs 107.07 crore and the awarded cost is Rs 86 crore, including Rs 43 crore for tunnel and Rs 43 crore for 4.2 Km approach roads to tunnel.
- BRO has been entrusted with 251 km and this consists of 17 packages out of which 10 projects of 151 km have been sanctioned.
- These include five projects of 99 km length on Rishikesh – Dharasu( NH-94), two projects for constructing 22 km on Dharasu- Gangotri Highway (NH-108) and three projects for constructing 32 km on Joshimath to Mana (NH-58) road.
- BRO is slated to complete four projects aggregating a length of 53 Km out of 10 ongoing projects ahead of their scheduled between June and October 2020.
- The minister asked the BRO to be ready with all preliminary works related to remaining packages which were stuck as they fell in an ecological sensitive zone and a high-powered committee report was awaited, assuring that he will get in touch with concerned authorities to expedite the same.
- The BRO to ensure beautification drive along the highway including plantation of green species besides other methods.
- The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India's borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country.
- In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman.
- The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
- Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation