Keeping in mind the difficult terrain of the Rann of Kutch in north-west Gujarat and the resulting security concerns, the government of India is set to acquire four all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for the Border Security Force (BSF).
"Each ATV will cost around Rs 1.85 crore (Rs 18.5 million). A proposal of the BSF (a paramilitary force under the home ministry raised in 1965) is expected to get the home ministry's sanction in the next few days. The government is also considering buying four more ATVs," said a government source on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
On March 23, these high-tech vehicles, built by Italian company Aris, made a successful demonstration by running freely on the marshy land, and also were able to swim and float on water with 16 personnel on board.
The BSF, meanwhile, has floated tenders for four hovercraft — capable of travelling over relatively smooth surfaces well, like land, ice, and water — and a few fast-attack craft (a type of speed-boat) to meet the challenges of Pakistani armed infiltrations and fishermen illegally entering Indian territory.
Spread over 21,000 square km, the entire Indian side of the Rann of Kutch is saline, marshy land, making it almost impossible to check infiltration from Pakistan.
The Pakistan part of the Rann of Kutch falls in the province of Sind.
Easily accessible from Pakistan by using boats, it is exceedingly difficult to enter from the Indian side, with seawater flowing in and out.
Some in the security forces describe it as India's Bermuda Triangle (a region in the north Atlantic Ocean, in which many aircraft and ships have mysteriously disappeared).
In November last year, an Indian Air Force MI-8 helicopter crashed in the area and five persons died.