The Defence Ministry has decided to give more powers to the Border Roads Organisation to ensure that strategic roads along the India-China border are built faster without unnecessary delays. The ministry said it intends to “bring transformational changes in the organisation to improve the pace of execution of works” and meet the Army’s requirements.

Besides its administrative powers, the BRO’s financial powers have also been enhanced. Its director general can now approve works up to Rs 100 crore, up from the earlier Rs 50 crore cap. With the intent to speed up works and lessen red-tape, the Defence Ministry has also given the BRO additional financial and administrative powers at all levels, including the authority to procure indigenous and imported construction equipment.

This decision comes amid a diplomatic standoff between India and China in the Sikim sector’s Doklam area. Both nations have maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory in the region. Bilateral ties have been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in Doklam. New Delhi has made it clear that it will not allow China to construct a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau.

The Indian Army was unhappy over delays in the construction of India-China Border Roads and had requested the ministry to speed up the projects. The were originally scheduled for completion in 2012, PTI reported.

In March, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had also highlighted the delay in constructing 61 important India-China Border Roads. “All 61 India-China Border Roads included in the Border Roads Development Board programme were planned to be completed by 2012,” the CAG report had said. “However, only 15 roads were completed by 2012.”

Of the remaining roads, only seven were completed by March 2016, extending the completion date to 2021, the audit report added.