In a boost to the anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, the base of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) has finally been set up in the state.
The aerial vehicle quietly made its first test-reconnaissance from an airstrip in the Bhilai Steel Plant campus on Friday. The UAV will have its base station at a location in Nandini village of Bhilai, as a joint team of NTRO and Indian Air Force will handle its operations.
The UAV makes sorties over the forested zone of Dandakaranya and takes images useful in security operations.
Its previous base station was in Begumpet, Hyderabad. Whenever the Chhattisgarh Police wanted any information about the location of Maoists, it had to first send an application to the NTRO. The images often arrived with a considerable time lag, making it difficult for the police to effectively utilise the input.
Now, the UAV’s inputs will be streamed live at certain strategic locations, including Raipur police headquarters, offices of police superintendents of Maoist-hit districts and office of Bastar IG, among others. The UAV is likely to be connected with these offices within months.
The forces, however, also cautioned against any euphoria about the immediate success against Maoists as being claimed in some quarters. Extremely forested terrain and cloudy weather pose major challenges for obtaining quality pictures. It is an important addition, they say, but requires very high precision.
The Indian Express has seen several images and videos sent by UAV in Bastar. The images come across as tiny objects on the ground and it becomes fairly impossible to identify Maoists.
On an occasion, for instance, some officers had taken a long linear movement of tiny black dots to be a marching army of the insurgents. The pattern of their movement, officers assumed, resembled that of Maoist cadres. It was later revealed that they were tribals travelling together for a weekly market in a distant village.