Smart Fences, Bet­ter Neigh­bours

India Today - - UPFRONT - —San­deep Un­nithan

Guard­ing In­dia’s bor­der with Pak­istan can be chal­leng­ing even when the bul­lets are not fly­ing. Phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers have been put up along 3,006 km of the In­dia-Pak­istan bor­der and work is on to com­plete a fi­nal 120 km stretch to pre­vent in­fil­tra­tion by ter­ror­ists, cat­tle thieves and drug smug­glers. How­ever, it is still phys­i­cally pa­trolled by Bor­der Se­cu­rity Force (BSF) per­son­nel, who count on a small num­ber of hand-held ther­mal im­agers (HHTIs) to spot in­trud­ers. A man­power crunch means troop­ers work 16 to 18-hour shifts. In re­cent years, smug­glers and ter­ror­ists have taken to tun­nel­ing to in­fil­trate.

This is what makes the home min­istry’s Rs 22 crore pi­lot pro­ject for a Com­pre­hen­sive In­te­grated Bor­der Man­age­ment So­lu­tion (CIBM) so rad­i­cal. The pro­ject, strung along two 6 km stretches of the bor­der in Jammu, was in­au­gu­rated by home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh on Septem­ber 17. The twin projects, one de­vel­oped by Tata Power SED and the other by a Slo­vakian firm, in­volve em­bed­ding mul­ti­ple sen­sors along the bor­der— ground sur­veil­lance radars, op­tic sen­sors, day and night cam­eras, HHTIs, un­manned ground sen­sors and a fi­bre­op­tic in­tru­sion de­tec­tion sys­tem. These sen­sors will chan­nel their feeds to mon­i­tors in BSF bor­der out­posts placed at 5 km in­ter­vals along the bor­der.

The smart fence has the po­ten­tial to change the way In­dia guards its bor­ders—from a man­power in­ten­sive one to a smart one with a net­work of radars and sen­sors and turn­ing the BOP into a com­mand and con­trol post. “With the smart fence, the BSF be­comes a Quick Re­ac­tion Team, in­ter­ven­ing only in case of un­usual ac­tiv­ity,” a pro­ject of­fi­cial says.

State-of-the-art elec­tron­i­cally-scanned ground sur­veil­lance radar can scan 180 de­grees of the bor­der, de­tect ve­hi­cles at a range of 15 km, and hu­mans 5 km away. The Unat­tended Ground Sen­sor helps de­tect in­trud­ers in un­du­lat­ing ter­rain. The suc­cess of the pro­ject will de­ter­mine how the BSF smartens its fence along the bor­ders with Pak­istan and Bangladesh.

CHANNI ANAND/AP

MAN­NING THE LOCA man­power crunch means troop­ers work gru­elling 16 to 18-hour shifts

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