JD(U) counters Shah’s Bihar ‘big talk’, cites CAG on incomplete border roads

Days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah opened five border outpost buildings in Kishanganj district and assured people of “safety and development”, the ruling JD(U) has flagged the Centre’s failure in completing the crucial roads project at the Indo-Nepal border.

In an attempt to counter what it called “Shah’s big talk” on security of people and development in border areas, the JD(U) cited the CAG’s 2021 report on the project, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2016.

Tabled in the Lok Sabha this April, the CAG report — “Performance audit of Indo-Nepal border road project”— shows that even one-third of the project isn’t complete.

“We are not making any political allegations against the Centre,” JD(U) chief spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told The Indian Express, “We are only showing the NDA government the mirror… Since the Home Minister talked big about the security of people along Indo-Nepal and also the Indo-Bangladesh border owing to sundry illegal activities.”

According to Kumar, in 2010, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had decided to construct 1,377 km of road, of which 564 km was to be built along the Indo-Nepal border covering its eight districts in Bihar. The estimated project cost was Rs 3,853 Crore.

The project was cleared in 2012, with a scheduled deadline of 2016. The Centre, however, changed the project deadline “to 2018 and later to 2019 and finally to December 2022”, Kumar said.

He said the Centre had also changed the alignment of some roads under the project, causing damage to 15 bridges constructed by the state.

The Centre also changed the project cost in 2017 causing a loss to the state, Kumar said further, citing the CAG report.

“It was decided that Rs 3,935.13 crore would be spent for the Bihar stretch… Out of it, the Centre’s share stood at Rs 1,656.56 crore, as was decided in 2012, but Bihar’s share went up from Rs 896.30 crore to Rs 2,278.57 crore. While the Centre did not release funds in time, Bihar had to take a loan of Rs 928.77 crore,” he added.

Countering Shah’s claims on security, the JD(U) leader said the Centre had also not taken Shastra Seema Bal (SSB)’s advice to ensure border roads are not built more than 500 metres away from the border outposts.

But the roads being built are “20 km away from the outposts at some places, and 40 km away at others”, Kumar added.

The BJP hit back saying the former ally in the state had no “moral authority” to lecture the Centre.

BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand told The Indian Express: “The JD(U) likes to pursue politics of appeasement…It has no moral authority to give us lectures on the functioning of PM Narendra Modi-led Union government or on the issues of internal and border security”.

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