Union Home Minister Amit Shah opened five border outpost buildings in Kishanganj district and assured people of “safety and development” but the ruling JD(U) has accused the Centre of failing to complete the crucial Indo-Nepal border road project.
As an attempt to counter what it called Shah’s “big talk” on security of people and economic development in border areas, the JD(U) cited the project’s CAG report in 2021, originally scheduled for completion in 2016.
The CAG report, “Performance audit of Indo-Nepal border road project,” which was tabled in the Lok Sabha this April, shows that only a third of the project has been completed.
“We are not making any political accusations against the Center,” Neeraj Kumar told The Deccan Era, “We are simply pointing the finger at the NDA government… As a result of sundry illegal activities along the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh borders, the Home Minister talked a lot about people’s security there.
It was decided in 2010 by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to build 1,377 km of road, of which 564 km would be constructed along the Indo-Nepal border covering eight districts in Bihar, according to Kumar. It was estimated that the project would cost Rs 3,853 crore.
It was scheduled to be completed by 2016, after being cleared in 2012. As a result, the Centre changed the project deadline “first to 2018 then to 2019 and finally to December 2022”, Kumar said.
Additionally, 15 bridges constructed by the state were damaged when the Centre changed the alignment of some roads under the project.
According to Kumar, the Centre also changed the project cost in 2017, resulting in a loss for the state.
“A total of Rs 3,935.13 crore will be spent on the Bihar stretch… As has been decided in 2012, the Centre’s share will be Rs 1,656.56 crore, while Bihar’s share will be Rs 2,278.57 crore. Due to the failure of the Centre to release funds in time, Bihar had to take out a loan of Rs 928.77 crore,” he said.
As a counterpoint to Shah’s claims on security, the JD(U) leader said the Centre failed to heed the advice of Shastra Seema Bal (SSB) to keep border roads within 500 meters of border posts.
Kumar added that the roads being built are sometimes 20 kilometers and sometimes 40 kilometers away from the outposts.
As a response, the BJP said its former ally had no “moral authority” to lecture the central government.
Nikhil Anand, BJP spokesperson, said: “The JD(U) tries to appease…It has no moral authority to lecture us on the functioning of PM Modi’s government or on border security issues”.