Smart Fences, Better Neighbours
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.
MANNING THE LOCA manpower crunch means troopers work gruelling 16 to 18-hour shifts