Union Home Ministry approved a indigenously developed smart fence at the 48.12-km-long Dhubri border area
The BSF will deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs and erect a 'smart fence' to check smuggling and infiltration from across the most notorious riverine and porous gaps along the India-Bangladesh border by next year, the chief of the force said today.
BSF Director General (DG) KK Sharma, while interacting with reporters here, said the Union home ministry has recently approved a proposal of the force to deploy an indigenously developed smart fence at the 48.12-km-long riverine Dhubri border area along the Brahmaputra river in Assam.
"The technology solution will help in checking surprise infiltration and it will also ensure rest and recuperation of troops involved in area domination duties in this area. By October 2018, this project will be in place at Dhubri," he said.
The smart fence, a senior officer said, will detect illegal human or cattle movement with the help of infra-red rays. The control room will get alerted by satellite-based signals in case of a breach followed by a response by a quick reaction armed team of the force, he said.
At present, BSF troops on boats guard this patch which is highly prone to illegal migration and cattle smuggling due to the changing course of the river. No permanent structure like border posts can be erected in this area.
Mr Sharma said the force has approached the home ministry to procure four UAVs for "effective air surveillance of vulnerable infiltration areas of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura", along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border that they are mandated to guard.
The BSF has also urged the ministry to sanction the raising of five more battalions (about 5,000 personnel) and their deployment along this border region to check crimes like smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes, arms, ammunition and narcotics in some of the "most vulnerable and notorious areas, he said.
The BSF chief said the force has "very cordial" relations with its counterpart -- the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) -- in checking border crimes and it was trying to bring down the instances of killing of Bangladeshis along the boundary.
"The relations between the two countries are very good. The moment we change the present strategy (of using non-lethal weapons), more killings take place. It is detrimental to the interest of both the countries and we don't want to embarrass the other side," he said when asked if the force will use more lethal weapons as smugglers attack BSF men on duty.
He said that to check border crimes and stop attacks on BSF personnel and subsequent killing of Bangladeshis due to firing, both the forces have started doing simultaneous coordinated patrols in vulnerable areas.
"Hopefully, things will get better," he said.
Asked about the instances of cattle smuggling, the DG said these numbers were "gradually coming down".
The figure of cattle smuggling stood at over 20 lakh cattle a few years back but this was now only about five to six lakh, he said.
"We are very serious about handling this issue and hence the number of clashes with smugglers (of BSF troops) has gone up in the last two years.
"We have had two of our brave officers killed by the smugglers in the recent past while more than 120 people have been injured in various clashes," he said.
The force said it had also recently detected three underground tunnels in the border area.
Tunneling is a serious concern in these areas and the tunnels are like those found along the Indo-Pak border areas, especially in Jammu region, for smuggling of contraband and arms, the DG said.