India not to take up new road projects in Afghanistan (Lead)

May 6th, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) After the latest killings of its personnel by Taliban militants in Afghanistan, India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) Tuesday said it is unlikely to take up any more projects in the insurgency-plagued country. “In Afghanistan, we unfortunately had casualties. We have 300 men working in the country, and about 400 personnel of ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) are there for the inner security cordon,” BRO Director General Lt. Gen. A.K. Nanda told reporters here.

“For the outer cordon of security, we have recruited around 1,400 Afghan gunmen. But one is not very sure of their loyalty,” Nanda said on the eve of the 48th raising day of the BRO.

On April 12, two personnel of the BRO were killed and five injured in a suicide attack in southwest Afghanistan’s Nimroz province. Two other BRO personnel were killed earlier in the year.

BRO sources told IANS that the organisation has been paying around 4,000-5,000 Afghanis (Afghanistan currency) to the local gunmen, but their loyalties are a major cause of concern for the Indian authorities.

“The threat is there and we have to live with that. Because of the threat, we would like to finish the work as early as possible,” Nanda added.

The BRO has completed about 80 percent of the work on the 219-km road from Zaranj to Delaram on the Iran-Afghanistan border and construction of the last 30 km is going on. The road will link the highways of the land-locked country to Iranian ports and open the Afghan market to Indian goods as currently there are no transit facilities through Pakistan.

“By July this year we are likely to pull out from Afghanistan after finishing the project,” Nanda said.

Over 4,000 Indians are engaged in construction activities at various infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. India has pledged $850 million for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, making New Delhi the fifth largest donor there.

However, BRO is not likely to undertake other projects in the country.

“No further request has come yet, and we have got enough workload over here (in India),” Nanda said.

Besides Afghanistan, the BRO has undertaken strategic projects in neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Myanmar.

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