Border with Myanmar to be secure by 2018: BSF

Security till the last mile along the porous Myanmar border will only be a reality by 2018, according to a time frame set by the Border Security Force for itself after it gets the Cabinet nod to replace Assam Rifles next month.

The Assam Rifles, whose operational control is under the Indian Army, is currently positioned around 70-80 kilometres within the Myanmar border, which leaves many patches unmanned.

Since Myanmar is a friendly country, armed forces cannot be deployed right along the border, prompting the government to replace it with the BSF, which is a police force, and currently guards the eastern and western border fronts.

Due to the rough terrain, the BSF says most border outposts will be air-maintained. For this they are already in the process of acquiring eight Mi-17 helicopters. "The new fleet of Mi-17 choppers that we are procuring will be used in this part of the border. We expect to get the choppers by the end of 2014," said Subhash Joshi, Director General, BSF.

India and Myanmar share 1,643 km of unfenced border and permit free movement up to 16 km across the border, making it extremely porous. The border runs along hilly terrain which grossly lacks basic infrastructure and provides cover to activities of various Indian insurgent groups.

Officials said the BSF was giving final touches to the blueprint detailing the infrastructure and human resources required to be present at the border.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked us to prepare a draft detailing our requirements. A team had gone there to assess the situation... we will take a fortnight or so to submit the report after which the Cabinet will take up the matter," said Joshi.

The officer said they had projected a requirement of 41 battalions (around 41,000 men) to guard this border. Presently around 46,000 Assam Rifle personnel are posted there.

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