Making the final policy push, the government has decided to sanction a major manpower and infrastructure boost to the ITBP in the form of nine new battalions, a strategic sector headquarter on the front, a dozen patrol camps and 47 new BoPs to be raised along the China border over the next few years. As per an official note accessed by PTI, the Union Home Ministry last month held a meeting for the creation of a number of operational border security requirements for the force that is mandated to guard the 3,488-km long Sino-India frontier.
As per the proposal, the Home Ministry has accorded an in-principle approval to raise 9 new battalions (comprising about 9,000 personnel), a sector headquarter on the China border in a north east state, 47 new border outposts (BoPs), 12 ‘staging camps’ and augmenting the troops’ strength at 18 BoPs in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh region.
PTI had first reported in January that the government is planning to raise 15 new battalions in the country’s two important border guarding forces to fortify defence along the strategic frontiers with Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Nine of these battalions were meant for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police while the rest were for the Border Security Force, which had been sanctioned sometime back by the ministry.
With the sanction coming in for the ITBP by the next month, a senior official said, the force will start fresh recruitment to raise the new battalions and also to fill its existing vacancy of about 6,000 personnel in the lower ranks. The budgetary allocation is the last thing to be cleared by the Home Ministry, he said.
The new sector headquarter, the official said, will be headed by a deputy inspector general (DIG)-rank official and in all possibility will be based in Arunachal Pradesh to oversee the deployment of the force in the border state and adjoining Sikkim area. The dozen new ‘staging camps’ or temporary huts are required to provide ITBP patrols rations, logistics and a place to stay during long-range patrols along the icy Himalayan frontier. They act as temporary BoPs for the troops out on operations.
The ITBP has been wanting to reduce the inter-BoP distance at the arduous border, that witnesses frequent blizzards and vagaries of sub-zero temperatures, and these new facilities will give it the wherewithal to do so, security officials had earlier said. The frequent instances of transgressions and confrontations with the Chinese army at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is being seen as the major reason for the ITBP to enhance its numbers, infrastructure and logistics at the front.
The new battalions would also help the border guarding force to better rotate troops from forward locations to units in the mainland.
The ITBP is about 90,000 personnel strong force as of now and its border posts range from a height of 9,000 to over 14,000 feet.