The Border Security Force (BSF) has embarked on an infrastructure upgradation project along the Indo-Pak border in Punjab comprising building of new observation towers and ambush-and-patrol shelters in order to thwart attempts to smuggle narcotics from across the border into India.
Speaking to The Indian Express, senior BSF officials here informed that under a central government project to upgrade the Border Observation Posts and the observation towers, an ambitious project has been launched along the International Border with Pakistan. The new measures of surveillance and counter-infiltration strategy have already been put in place given the fact that heavy fog during the winter months makes the task of BSF doubly difficult.
According to the official, the construction of observation towers and ambush-and-patrol shelters along the India-Pakistan border in Punjab is taking place at full speed and many such posts have already come up and augment the existing arrangements. “Due to reasons of security the exact number of these posts cannot be disclosed, but these will help the BSF personnel manning them to have greater facilities at their disposal,” said J K Birdi, BSF Commandant of a battalion deployed on the border.
The first of such posts have already come up along the border and were visited by The Indian Express. While the nature of these posts cannot be disclosed due to security reasons, however, it was clear that these will provide an edge to the BSF personnel guarding the border in Punjab and will offer several facilities which were hitherto not available to them. The ‘laser walls’ to check infiltration augment these new posts and act as an advance alarm to alert the guards on duty on several stretches, including riverine tracts along the border.
Ferozepur sector of the BSF along the Indo-Pak border has seen heavy seizure of narcotics in the year 2017 with roughly half the total haul of the force coming from this sector. As per the data provided by the BSF, 107.737 kg heroin was seized from the border in Ferozepur sector against a total seizure of 279 kg from the entire Punjab border. As far as interdiction of intruders from Pakistan is concerned, out of the total seven intruders who were killed on the Indo-Pak border in Punjab, six were killed in the area of responsibility of Ferozepur sector. This is in addition to the ten Pakistani intruders who were nabbed by BSF personnel in this sector alone.
A senior BSF officer said that the repairing of border fence has also been put on fasttrack as the older fencing had finished its life span and was getting damaged. “Wherever we have found that the fence needed replacement, the patrolling and static deployment has been increased in order to plug any potential gaps,” he said. This sector is also considered sensitive due to the meandering Sutlej river which crosses from India into Pakistan and has to be patrolled with the use of boats.
The measures being put in place are in accordance with the instructions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. The report had stated that the government has sanctioned construction/upgradation of 126 Border Observation Posts (BOPs) to reduce the inter-BOP distance to 3.5 km.
The Committee, during its study visit to border areas of Punjab, found extremely poor roads which can significantly slow down the movement of forces and cause hardship to them during an emergency. The Committee had recommended that approval to the project of construction of lateral and axial roads in Punjab should be granted without any further delay and construction work should begin at the earliest. The Committee also said that the Ministry of Home Affairs must prioritise construction of lateral roads as they are essential for patrolling and surveillance purposes.