R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Jan 20 - As fencing the entire stretch of the India-Bangladesh border is not found feasible due to geographical reasons, the Government of India has decided to put in use all the modern technical gadgets available including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for effective border management. Meanwhile, state level standing committees have also been formed to hold regular interactions with all the stakeholders for effective border management.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that India has more than 4,000 kilometers of international border with Bangladesh and construction of physical barriers all along the border is not feasible because of geographical constrains like riverine border, elephant corridors, soil erosion, objections from Bangladesh etc. In Assam , fencing work is pending in a stretch of around 61 kilometers of the border and the Government has decided that around 48 kilometers of it would be managed by non-physical barriers.
Sources revealed that the Border Security Force (BSF) has identified the vulnerable stretches of the border and the gaps in fencing. The Government has started using technological solutions to deal with the problem to improve border management and a comprehensive border management system is being introduced to deal with the problem of infiltration and smuggling. The system, which is also called smart fencing, will be introduced all along the border starting with the vulnerable patches.
Technical gadgets including night vision goggles, advanced telescopes, search lights, hand held metal detectors, hand held thermal imagers, etc., are already been used and unmanned aeriel vehicles would also be put into use for effective border management.
The Government of India has also started taking steps for strengthening the institutional framework for improving guarding of the border with Bangladesh. State Level standing committees headed by the Chief Secretaries of the states having international border with Bangladesh have been constituted to evolve a standard operating procedure of the border protection grid. All the stakeholders are included in the grid for proper response in case of a border defence breach, sources added.
Sources said that some other measures including increasing the strength of the BSF has also been taken. At present, 81 battalions of the BSF are deployed in over 900 border outposts constructed along the border. The BSF personnel deployed along the international border have also been directed to sensitize the local people and non government organizations about the need for helping the forces in dealing with infiltration.
However, at the same time, sources admitted that the topography of the border makes it vulnerable to infiltration and smuggling. Dense population right up to the zero line is another problem in ensuring proper border management. The illegal migrants take advantage of the situation and immediately after crossing over, they mingle with the population of the border areas by taking advantage of ethnic similarities, particularly in Assam and West Bengal. Moreover, due to the land boundary agreement signed between the two countries in 1974, the fencing has to be constructed beyond 150 yards from the zero line and in view of the habitation right up to the zero line, in some places it is not possible to do so.