Security infrastructure for BSF troops deployed in the marshy creek areas of Kutch along the India-Pakistan international maritime border in Gujarat will be upgraded amid an increase in the number of apprehensions of Pak fishermen, official sources said on Wednesday.
They said all-weather border posts, improved systems for power and water supply and installation of surveillance equipments will be done in the area which faces harsh weather and geographical conditions in the about 100-km tidal estuary of Sir Creek and the ‘Harami Nalla’ areas.
The Union Home ministry had some time back approved a BSF proposal to develop border infrastructure in this area for its troops and the subject was also taken up by Home secretary Ajay Bhalla when he reviewed the operational preparedness of the force last month.
The number of apprehensions of fishermen and their boats in the creek area in Kutch has risen. While nothing incriminating has been seized from these Pakistani citizens in the recent past, it is essential to man the area 24×7 to check infiltration of terrorists and weapons, a senior security officer said.
He said the BSF wants to establish modern infrastructure for its troops so that they face less difficulties while doing their routine administrative tasks, patrolling and surveillance of the area.
While Indian fishermen are barred from entering the creek area, Pakistani fishermen enter the Indian side to catch fish.
A number of times, such fishermen escape towards the Pakistan side after abandoning their boats once they spot BSF patrol boats.
In July, the BSF caught four fishermen from the neighbouring country and seized 10 boats and this was preceded by apprehension of three more Pakistani fishermen with nine Pakistani boats in June.
In May, the force had seized nine Pakistan fishing boats near Harami Nala in Bhuj and caught three fishermen.
The Union Home secretary, while holding a meeting with top BSF brass on July 16, directed the force to expedite the work to develop better border infrastructure in the ‘Harami Nalla’ and creek areas, they said.
Bhalla, during the same meeting, also asked the force to “expedite” the cadre review of Group ‘A’ (general duty) officers of the force so that timely promotions can be granted to them, especially up to the rank of Commandant.
The cadre review of the force, which once approved by the government leads to better promotion avenues and sometimes increase in new posts, has been delayed by almost a year.
The cadre review is also expected to take into consideration a recent home ministry directive that said 15 deputy inspector general (DIG) posts meant for Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in BSF be “temporary diverted” for the cadre officers of the paramilitary force (for vacancy year 2022).
The timely approval of cadre review will help ease the issue of stagnation and lack of promotion avenues for the officers of the force to an extent, officials said.
The pending issue of granting non-functional financial upgradation (NFFU) and organised group ‘A’ cadre categorisation to BSF and other CAPF officers, as declared by the central government in 2019, would also be part of the discussions before the cadre review proposal is sent by the force to the MHA for final approval, officials said.
A number of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) officers have gone to the court claiming they have been denied these benefits despite the sanction of the Union cabinet.
The meeting also saw the home secretary approving BSF’s proposals to procure more than 300 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance tasks and some other gadgets, officials said.
The 2.65 lakh personnel strong BSF is primarily tasked to guard Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh apart from rendering a variety of duties in the internal security domain.