NEW DELHI, April 16 - Even as a parliamentary panel described the Indo-Bangladesh border as highly porous and a hotspot of illegal immigration, cattle smuggling and human trafficking, the Centre reduced the number of border outposts to 422 from the sanctioned 509.
Currently, 1011 border outposts exist along the India-Bangla border. Taking a serious note of the fact that the proposal of constructing 509 border outposts along the Indo-Pak border and the Indo-Bangla border to reduce the inter-outpost distance to 3.5 kilometres has been revised and the number of outposts has been reduced, the panel said that reducing inter-outpost distance is very crucial for the security of the country and to keep a tab on the activities going on at the border.
The committee took a serious view of the cost and time overrun due to delay in land acquisition. The government should have acted in advance to overcome all such difficulties for timely implementation of the project. The committee strongly recommended that the project be completed by the targeted date of July 2018 and there should be no further time and cost overrun. The committee noted that no reasons were furnished by the Ministry of Home Affairs as to why the number of outposts was reduced from 509 to 422.
Under the circumstances, the committee recommended that the original plan of constructing 509 border outposts to reduce the inter-outpost distance to 3.5 km may be reconsidered in the interest of the country�s security, a report of the Department Related Standing Committee attached to Ministry of Home Affairs said.
The Ministry informed the committee that due to delay in land acquisition, the project has suffered cost and time overrun. However, in order to overcome this issue, it has now been decided to construct border outposts in the available land. This has given the required thrust and the project is now targeted for completion at a cost of Rs 2494.76 crore by July 2018.
The parliamentary panel headed by former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram expressed concern over the pace of fencing work. It noted with anguish the extremely slow pace of construction of fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The Ministry has been able to complete only 21 km of fencing in 17 months since July 2015.
The committee also noted that a long stretch of 423.34 km has remained unfenced due to non-feasibility of physical barrier and deployment of non-physical barriers is still in its testing phase and will require time before its implementation. The committee felt that at the current pace, the Ministry would not be able to seal the Indo-Bangla border by its target date of March 2019.
The Centre has said that 3006.48 km of the total 4096.7 km of Indo-Bangladesh border has been covered by physical barriers and the remaining 1090.22 km of border will be covered with physical and non-physical barriers by March 2019.