The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India’s borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country.
In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman.
Today, the board exercises the financial and other powers of a Department of Government of India and is chaired by the Raksha Rajya Mantri (RRM).
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment (on Deputation).
Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometers of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
Presently, BRO is also involved in the construction of a tunnel at the Rohtang pass which is estimated to be ready by 2020 September.
Himank, also styled Project HIMANK, is a project of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the Ladakh region of northernmost India that started in August 1985.
Himank is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads and related infrastructure including the world’s highest motorable roads across the Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La passes.
Himank’s work ensures access to sensitive military areas including the world’s highest battle-ground at the Siachen Glacier and Pangong Tso Lake (at 14500 ft) whose waters span the de facto India-China border.
Nicknamed “The Mountain Tamers”, Himank’s personnel battling tough terrain and extreme climatic conditions and are constrained in most areas to work within a short working season of four months as roads get blocked by heavy snow and extreme cold temperatures.
Most of the manual labourers are from Bihar, not from Ladakh. They are nicknamed Dumkas after a village where many of the original Himank workers were recruited.
Himank constructed the world’s highest 86 km motorable road in Ladakh region, between Chisumle and Demchok villages, passing through Umlingla Top at a height of over 19,300 feet.
Himank constructed the world’s highest Bailey bridge at Khardung La, though this has been subsequently replaced by a causeway.
Himank’s opening of the Srinagar-to -Leh highway in May 1999 was a crucial factor in Operation Vijay allowing India to make a timely military response in the Kargil war.
The Sasoma–Saser La Road will be the “world’s first glaciated motorable road” once completed.