Srinagar – With an aim to achieve zero- infiltration, the Centre will soon send a group of experts to Line of Control (LoC) ahead of onset of the harsh winter to give a feasibility report on erection of an all-weather fence that can withstand even heavy snowfall in the area.
During the recent visit of Union Home Minister SushilkumarShinde to Kashmir Valley, detailed discussions took place on construction of a permanent fence along the LoC, where each year 83 km of fencing is damaged due to snowfall or avalanches, official sources said today.
Out of the 740 km long stretch of LoC, India has built fence along 550 km, work on which was completed in 2004. However, due to repeated damage to fence by heavy snow, terrorists from across the border used to take advantage and infiltrate into the Valley.
As per the proposal, a brain child of Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ashok Prasad, the Union Home Ministry will send a team of experts comprising civil engineers from reputed institutions to the LoC to carry out a detailed feasibility study of erecting a permanent fence, the sources said.
During the first phase, the Centre plans to seal nearly 40 routes which have traditionally been used by terrorists to infiltrate into the Valley and these are mainly in North Kashmir areas like Kupwara, Gurez, Uri and Keran and Doda district of Jammu region.
Every year nearly 83 km of the fencing along the LoC especially in North Kashmir’s Gurez, Karnah, Kupwara and Gulmarg sectors is damaged which allows militants to infiltrate into the Kashmir Valley and other parts of the state, the sources said.
They said the team of experts also comprising officials from Indian Meteorological Department would also identify highly avalanche prone areas after taking into account average snowfall for the last one decade.
After working on the feasibility, the experts would submit a report to the Union Home Ministry which will take the plan to Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS), the highest decision making body on security affairs, the sources said.
They said this would also lessen the recurring expenses on repair of the fencing every year after making a onetime investment in erection of the fence. During one of the presentations, officials from the Union Home Ministry were shown pillars along the famous Gandola cable car in Gulmarg which can withstand all weather conditions and a suggestion was made to have a similar mechanism along the LoC, the sources said.
They said the army highlighted that in case of permanent fencing, some of the villages in North Kashmir would fall outside it, raising concern among the people.
However, the civilian administration opined that a gate could be constructed at places which would be exclusively open for themovement of the people of this area.
Army had earlier objected even to the fencing of border in early 2000, which was mooted by Prasad during his tenure in the Home
Ministry, but had to fall in line after the then government gave a go ahead. The present fencing consists of double-row of fencing and concertina wire which is electrified and connected to a network of motion sensors, thermal imaging devices, lighting systems and alarms. They act as “fast alert signals” to the troops who can be activated to ambush the infiltrators trying to sneak in. The fencing of the LoC in Kashmir region and Jammu was completed in late 2004 and the security forces found the level of infiltration dropping down drastically. Pakistan, at that point, had criticised the construction of the fence saying it violated both bilateral accords and relevant United Nations resolutions on the region but found no takers for it concerns.
The European Union supported India’s stand calling the fencing as “improvement in technical means to control terrorists’ infiltration”.
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