The Ministry of Home Affairs is trying to plug the long-standing infrastructural deficiencies on the border along Sir Creek area of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, which Pakistan often exploits for smuggling goods, including of narcotics.
On a proposal from the Border Security Force (BSF), Home Minister Amit Shah is said to have taken personal interest to push for constructions of seven watch towers along the 96-kilometre long strip of marshes in Sir Creek, which borders the Sindh province of Pakistan, said ministry sources.
Pakistan for long has had three border outposts (BOPs)—including Iqbal Bajwa and Radha Peer—close to their side of the Sir Creek border, while the BSF has been managing with temporary structures in the uninhabited marshlands. The two neighbours have mutually agreed not to build any structure within 150 meters of the disputed boundary in Rann of Kutch.
BOPs located far away
The BSF BOPs, as of now, are between 50-70 kilometres away from the Sir Creek border. It takes around four hours in high-speed boats and six hours in normal boats to reach the border, which adds to the time lag in response to any intrusion, said sources from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
For strategic advantage and better manning of the unfenced border, the BSF has requested the Home Ministry to construct seven towers at Sir Creek and to allow each post to accommodate at least 10 personnel for keeping an eye on adversaries.
The MHA’s border management division has roped in the CPWD for construction of the watch towers. Since construction in marshlands is comparatively difficult and requires special skills, the Ministry has split the building of towers in two phases, sources said. The CPWD is in the processes of completing re-tenders for three towers since they could not get a successful bidder in the first attempt made in June due to low base price. The CPWD has also got pre-qualification bids for the remaining four towers. All the towers have to be shielded against direct fire from the Pakistan troops as well, sources added.
The BSF’s requirement for BOPs, it is learnt, will take time to come through. The BSF commandos patrol the long area area through all-terrain vehicles.