BRO adopts new strategies for managed blasting in highway building

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7

Amid enhanced scope of work and impetus on improving infrastructure in far flung areas, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is adopting new techniques for controlled blasting developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that would be more effective for undertaking construction works in rugged terrain.

Following a memorandum of understanding signed by the BRO with the CSIR’s Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), a team of scientists from the institute undertook a series of field visits and spent several months at various sites to suggest blast designs on various border roads.

According to a senior BRO officer, difficulties faced in rock blasting during the cutting and formation work of roads in high altitude areas, both in the northern as well as north-eastern theatres, is among major reasons for slow progress of construction in the hills.

“Field reports from units responsible for critical border roads, including those in Ladakh, Arunachal and Uttarakhand, have confirmed that controlled blasting techniques developed by the CIMFR has been effective and safe in enhancing the pace of road construction works,” the officer added.

A fresh agreement on ‘Advice on Controlled Blast Design for Excavation of Rock at BRO Road Construction Sites’ was signed between the BRO and the CIMFR a few days ago. The tie-up is for a period of five years which can be extended on mutual consent.

The technology of controlled blasting techniques would enable proper fragmentation of rock and muck. It would ensure that drilling efforts are substantially reduced and the blasting is more controlled and optimum slope stabilisation is achieved.

The progress enhancement due to CSIR-CIMFR technique has been appreciated by the BRO officials and other states, leading to the signing of the current agreement for a period of five years which can be extended further upon mutual understanding.

Blasting, which involves the use of various types and quantities of explosives, is a highly technical and hazardous activity that requires a high degree of planning, task evaluation and impact assessment, a BRO officer said. One of the biggest hazards of blasting is flyrock (fragments of rock that get thrown around) that can pose a danger to the personnel, the equipment or the structures in the vicinity.

“The challenge in controlled blasting is to ensure that fragments and debris are restricted within a specified area through blast design patterns and also to correctly assess the blast induced ground vibration levels and air overpressure in places which are prone to landslides or where built-up structures are present,” the officer said.

The BRO, which is tasked with the construction and maintenance of critical road network in border regions, had stepped up its activities recently to ensure that the lines of communication to forward areas along the border with China remain open.

A number of strategic bridges were also inaugurated this summer and more are in the pipeline.

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