'If by chance there is a face-off, at least they can convey their message,' union home minister Rajnath Singh explained. Photograph:( Reuters )
The government is looking into a proposal for 50 temperature-controlled posts along the India-China border for ITBP jawans who guard the Himalayan heights in sub-zero temperatures, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Greater Noida on Tuesday.
Addressing personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, established on this day 56 years ago to guard India's borders with China, the home minister announced a slew of other measures to boost the capabilities of the force.
These include the construction of 25 border roads in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
There are 176 border posts along the India-China border, from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to Singh, the government is considering using technology to maintain a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in the proposed new posts. These will be located in high-altitude areas where ITBP jawans have to bear the brunt of snow blizzards and sub-zero temperatures.
"We are committed to enhancing your operational and infrastructure capabilities. Recently, we got a proposal to build 50 new border posts for the force and we are working on it," the home minister said.
The setting up of more posts is aimed at ensuring that they are not abandoned during extreme snow and cold.
The government is also considering special lightweight winter clothing for troops deployed above 9,000 feet and an enhanced fleet of snow scooters to patrol the high-altitude areas of the 3,488-km Sino-Indian frontier.
The force guards the border in altitudes ranging from 9,000 feet to 18,700 feet in the Western, Middle and Eastern sectors of the Indo-China Border.
Singh said he is not satisfied with housing and infrastructure facilities and is "seriously" working to improve these areas. The minister also said 35 old border posts in very high- altitude areas are being upgraded as "composite" units.
"We are working to enhance road, mobile and satellite connectivity in the border areas for the ITBP," he said.
The minister asked ITBP troops to ensure and build good relations with border dwellers as they are "strategic assets" of the country and important stakeholders in keeping the borders safe.
Singh lauded the ITBP for introducing Mandarin during basic training of its troops. This was done so they can converse with the Chinese Army during face-offs.
He also asked ITBP officers to take the responsibility of at least one family of those killed in the line of duty.
The ministry is working to help jawans who have suffered 50 percent disability during operations through the Bharat Ke Veer benevolent fund, he said.
ITBP Director General (DG) R K Pachnanda said the force has been nominated as the "nodal agency" for obtaining and channelising satellite communication for all border-guarding forces in the country.
He said the home ministry has also approved the ITBP's proposal to hire helicopters for high-altitude border posts.
The paramilitary is also enhancing its intelligence set-up, Pachnanda added.