MAMATA BANERJEE PUTS SUNDERBANS ON RADAR FOR TERROR THREATS
The Sundarbans in Bengal is not just tigers, crocodiles and fascinating flora and fauna. It’s also smugglers, poachers and terrorists who operate deep inside the vast swathe, large part of which is beyond the security apparatus of the state. So now West Bengal government has decided to bring this vast region, which shares porous riverine borders with neighbouring Bangladesh, under hi-tech radar surveillance.
The idea is to track possible terror activities in the deltaic mangrove swamp, much in the line of coastal security drills introduced in Maharashtra after the 26/11 terror strike.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government has decided to bring as many as 104 Sundarban islands under the advanced security mechanism. It has also sent a detailed proposal to the Union Home Ministry for necessary approval.
“We have already sent a detailed proposal to the home ministry. The Centre has agreed and accordingly given an in-principle approval,” West Bengal additional director general of police (coastal security) Raj Kanojia told Mail Today on Monday.
Kanojia said that the state government is working closely with the Coast Guard, Navy and Border Security Force (BSF) to put in place a security blanket along the entire region that is crisscrossed by various rivers.
The Sundarbans are part of the world’s largest delta, formed by the rivers Ganges, Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna, spread across West Bengal and Bangladesh. The whole tract of forest reaches inland for about
100-130 km from the confluence. In India, it is located in the South 24-Parganas district of West Bengal. It is a vast area covering 4,262 sq km, including a mangrove cover of 2,125 sq km in India alone, with a larger portion in Bangladesh.
“We are planning a joint strategy also to keep a close watch on the entire Sundarbans belt and monitor various subversive activities of terror modules, smuggling of armaments, wildlife poaching and movements of pirates,” Kanojia said, pointing out that the state government would also step up the intelligence mechanism in the Sundarbans.
According to sources, about 80 per cent of these 104 islands belong to the core forest area with very little population density and accessibility. It will be really difficult to monitor activities in these remote regions. If the state government can introduce the radar system, it would help keep a tab on the vulnerable territory as far as the internal security is concerned.
Talks are already on with various IT firms for installation of necessary technical back-up system in 14 coastal police stations and other state police outfits (stations). All these police stations would come under the new radar system. The total cost of the project would be around Rs. 150 crore, sources said.
MAY 06, 2015