Centre releases Rs 3 cr for 60 bunkers; 20,125 approved

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In a major step forward towards protection of border dwellers, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has released first installment of Rs 3 crores for construction of 60 modernized bunkers for the people of border areas while giving its nod for construction of total 20,125 bunkers in five border districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua along the International Border (IB) and Rajouri and Poonch districts along the Line of Control (LoC).
This was the long pending demand of lakhs of villagers putting up along the IB and LoC in Jammu region that they should be provided protection from Pakistan shelling and firing by construction concrete bunkers, which has been met by the Narendra Modi Government.
Official sources told  that the MHA has released first installment of Rs 3 crores to the State Government and asked it to construct 60 concrete bunkers along the IB on pilot basis in the border areas of Jammu district.
“Once approved by the people, the State Government, Army and BSF, the MHA would start releasing funds for construction of all 20,125 bunkers along IB and LoC,’’ sources said, adding the bunkers would be constructed for the people living within one kilometer to five kilometers area of IB and LoC.
As per the proposal prepared by the State Government and approved by the MHA, each bunker would be constructed with a view to accommodate maximum of 20 persons at a cost of Rs 5 lakh. As 60 bunkers are being constructed on pilot basis along the IB, the MHA has released Rs 3 crores for the State Government.
Sources said once the executing agency was finalized (most likely it could be the Rural Engineering Wing of Public Works Department), construction of 60 bunkers would start.
“After work was completed on 60 bunkers on pilot basis and they were approved by the stakeholders including local people, Army and BSF, who man LoC and IB respectively, administration and the State Government, the Centre would start releasing funds for construction of all 20,125 bunkers in the phases,’’ sources said.
Noting that construction of 60 bunkers on pilot basis has been approved only for Jammu district, sources said, the construction work would be taken up in all five districts simultaneously once the bunkers were approved by all stakeholders.
The bunkers will be equipped with all facilities like electricity, water, bathrooms etc to ensure that the people could spend a long time there, if required to survive from Pakistan shelling and firing. The bunkers would be constructed only in the area ranging between one kilometer to five kilometers from the LoC and IB.
“The MHA has given nod for construction of a total of 20,125 bunkers, which were sought by the State Government after an exercise carried out by the administration of five districts, which fall along LoC and IB in Jammu region, ‘’ sources said, adding the bunkers would cater to the needs of entire population living between 1-5 kilometers along LoC and IB.
In fact, they said, authorities have projected construction of excess bunkers in all the border villages taking into the needs of future requirement when population of the border villages would go up.
Though there has been no shelling or firing from Pakistan side along LoC and IB for past quite sometimes now and peace talks between the two countries were also progressing well with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visiting Pakistan, the Government of India still didn’t want to take any chances for safety and protection of the border villagers and has, therefore, decided to go ahead with construction of the bunkers along LoC and IB.
Sources pointed out that there were only five border districts in Jammu region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua, which fall along the IB and Rajouri and Poonch, which have LoC with Pakistan and all of them have been covered under the scheme.

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