N Biren Singh said he met officials to discuss the plan to fence the India-Myanmar border
A plan to extend the India-Myanmar border fencing by 70 km was discussed at a meeting today amid concerts over illegal immigrants entering Manipur from neighbouring Myanmar, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Mr Singh's meeting with the Chief Secretary and officials of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the state police and the Home Department comes a day after he asked the centre to end the "free movement regime" along the India-Myanmar border.
The "free movement regime" allows people living close to both sides of the India-Myanmar border to go 16 km into each other's territory without any papers. Due to this, illegal immigrants may give a slip to security forces as they are stationed at least 14-15 km inside Indian territory, the Chief Minister told reporters in the state capital Imphal on Saturday.
"Held a meeting with the officials of BRO and deliberated the plan to begin construction of an additional 70 km of border fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border. I was joined by Chief Secretary, DGP and officials from the Home Department," Mr Singh said in the post.
"In view of the rise in illegal immigration and drugs smuggling from the neighbouring country, safeguarding our porous borders has become an urgent necessity," he said.
Eastern Manipur's five districts share a 400-km border with Myanmar and less than 10 per cent of its international border with Myanmar is fenced, leaving the region wide open for drug smuggling. The total length of the India-Myanmar border is 1,600 km.
Strategic experts say if fencing the entire border is not possible due to the topography and cost-related reasons, key sections of the international border from where the highest illegal immigrant infiltration takes place can be fenced easily.
"We have to stay focused on real issues in the state, namely dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants, taking up welfare activities for internally displaced people and fighting massive poppy cultivation," Mr Biren told reporters on Saturday.
The BRO provides support to the armed forces and undertakes projects in India and friendly countries. These projects typically include developing roads, bridges and airfields in hostile environments shunned by private enterprises, whether due to security concerns related to hostilities, or because of environmental challenges.
Over 175 people have died and several hundreds injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, following a tribal solidarity march in the hill districts in protest against the valley-majority Meiteis' demand for Scheduled Tribes status.
The state is slowly limping back to normalcy amid intermittent gunfights between security forces and miscreants.