Govt Working On Sensors To Catch Infiltrators Under Water

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New Delhi: The government is pumping around Rs 1,000 crore in a multi-layered security infrastructure to plug cross-border infiltration on the western front. Not just on land but under water, too.

An indigenous sensor technology that can detect infiltrators under water will be part of an anti-infiltration technical grid that will also include laser walls, ground sensors and thermal imagers at various riverine gaps on the border in Jammu and Punjab, according to Home Ministry officials.

The move is expected to complement massive repair work the government is undertaking of fences on the Punjab border, and assumes significance following the Uri attack on September 18, believed to have been committed by four terrorists who crossed over from Pakistan.

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The security establishment believes that underwater infiltration is a clear possibility as India strengthens its fences and other terrestrial defences, said an official. He said that training on water, including swimming in swift rivers and diving, is part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) training module and that divers could be used to infiltrate in future.

“Last year, there was an instance where a consignment of heroin was sent from across the border stuffed in a tube and covered with hyacinth. Had it not been for prior intelligence, it would have crossed the border under water,” said the official.

Officials said that the Home Ministry has already sanctioned many border projects while others are under consideration. Some of them, such as the laser walls and underwater sensors, are being developed at the Border Security Force’s Tekanpur facility, they said.

The BSF facility is also working on replacing laser technology with infra-red rays with enhanced capabilities. “Laser rays are visible, infra-red provides a stealth option,” said an official.

“At the moment, they (infra-red rays) are able to cover gaps of only about 100 metres. The BSF is working on increasing it to 500-700 metres so that areas where rivers stretch to more than half-a-kilometre can be secured,” said the official.

The ministry has also sanctioned repair-work on fences and floodlights, which came up in the 1980s, on the Punjab border, the official said. “The repair of about 250 km of the 550 km of border-fencing has been sanctioned. The quality of material chosen for fencing is also better. The existing fencing is made of wrought iron, which is prone to rusting. The new fencing would be of galvanised metal,” said the official.

The ministry has also sanctioned the concretisation of over 800 posts on the border that would grant BSF personnel greater protection from snipers and during ceasefire violations. These posts will also have accommodation facilities.

According to officials, the border posts project alone would cost about Rs 100 crore, while each laser wall would cost about Rs 20,000.

Installing ground sensors would cost about Rs 1 crore per km. With about 750 km of the western border to be covered, the multi-layered technical security infrastructure is likely to cost in excess of Rs 1,000 crore.

Following the Pathankot attack in January, the ministry had ordered an increase in the number of troops on the Punjab border, from 15 to 20 battalions, officials said.