Mumbai: A long, meandering road moving past scenic tea gardens and through green mountains can make you forget momentarily the harsh realities that the nation is facing presently. For Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), this is the road that leads to yet another front where it has the opportunity to serve the nation’s bravest souls. For the drivers of the tank-lorries on this path, it is a journey against all odds.Many tank-lorries leave from Numaligarh Refinery and supply points in Numaligarh and other locations to reach deep into Arunachal Pradesh. The mission is to cater petroleum products to the armed forces operating in the frontier areas of this northeastern border state.As the nation is under a lockdown to fight COVID-19 outbreak, this long journey becomes full of challenges. To begin with, this is an extremely lonely route and the end points are far away. It can take up to 6 or 7 days for a return trip along this mountainous path. And because of the lockdown, intermediate stopovers are shut down. Thus, finding food and water along the route is quite a challenge. As a remedy, Bharat Petroleum is providing drivers non-perishable food, water and other essentials. Although, there is one respite. Upon reaching the destination, the Army helps them in every way. For example, there they can undertake maintenance of their vehicles, or fill up food supplies for the return journey, if necessary.In this mountainous region, destinations rise up into the skies. Damteng is at a height of 14,000 feet from the mean sea level. Bomdir is located at a height of 9,000 feet, LGG rises up to 12,500 feet, KM6 is at 9,000 feet, while Baisakhi stands at a height of 8,000 feet. At such lofty elevations, air is thin and oxygen levels are low. This causes breathing difficulty, exhaustion and fatigue – some of the most serious risks for drivers.The challenges do not end here. The route is precarious, as there are dangers of landslides. Such an event can block a road for hours or even days, leaving the drivers stranded in this desolate terrain. Network connectivity is sparse in this region, and any dysfunction in the system can cause even greater misery. Moreover, during the winter, mercury at several locations drops below zero, causing roads to remain snow-covered for up to four months, requiring Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to intervene for clean-up. BRO is tough organisation that supports the Army, and it is also a boon to civilian road transport. BRO teams keep road routes navigable throughout the year, rain or shine.
Apart from the Army, BPCL also supplies fuel and other petroleum products such as oils and lubricants to BRO as well as paramilitary forces. It a time-tested bond of trust between BPCL and the armed services that helps keep our national borders safe round the year, and especially during the present trying times.
Despite the daunting challenges, we are unstoppable, driven by a deep sense of duty and gratitude towards our defence forces.
In the month of March 2020, we supplied 694 kilolitres of products to the nation’s valiant keepers of peace and diligent protectors of our borders. We salute their selfless and unflinching service on the frontlines of border defence. Our heads also bow in recognition of the courage of our motivated men on the wheels for going beyond the call of duty in the service of the nation, which is a solemn commitment of the entire BPCL family.