Context: Government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of the Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure. 

More on the news:

  • These recommendations were related to speeding up road construction beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), leading to socio economic development in the border areas.
  • It has been made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.
    • Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.

 Other recommendations:

  • The other recommendation relating to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements. 
  • New Technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction. 
  • The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR). 

Significance: With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works.

Shekatkar Commiittee

  • The then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had in mid-2016 ordered the constitution of the Committee of Experts(CoE) under Lt Gen Shekatkar. The CoE submitted its report in December 2016.
  • Mandate: To suggest measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces.
  • The committee had made 188 recommendations, of which few have been implemented, and few more are in the pipeline.
  • Some of the recommendations have been implemented, including creation of the post of CDS and a department of military affairs. Several review meetings are being held for further implementation of the recommendations.
  • Other recommendations of the committee that are already being implemented include optimisation of Signals establishments, closure of military farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations, enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army, improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps etc.
  • Relevance now:
    • Implementing recommendations of the Committee of Experts (CoE) is going to be even more crucial for preparedness of the armed forces and defence ecosystem in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath.
    • Modernisation, indigenisation and reducing the reliance on imports will be even more crucial.

The same is reiterated by the government of India in the recently announced comprehensive economic package - Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan - to bring structural reforms in different sectors.

  • Concern: While the political leadership has been positive about these reforms, the governing mechanism had been stalling these reforms.


Image Source: MoD