The Sashastra Seema Bal can’t do anything about the quality of roads in border areas. So the force has decided to get off their jeeps and move into tractors instead.
The SSB – the border-guarding force along the Indo-Nepal border – has decided to order for three-dozen tractors to be able to reach border posts. “There are hardly any roads along the Indo-Nepal border, especially in Bihar,” said a SSB official.
“Where there are roads, there are more potholes than plain surface that can make driving a torturous task,” the official said, lamenting the absence of all weather roads in Bihar that accounts for nearly half of the length of the 1,751 km Indo-Nepal border.
Nearly 37 battalions have asked for at least one tractor to facilitate movement, the official said.
“If there are no roads, it makes sense to travel in the vehicle that can do without them. The tractors are powerful vehicles and as useful off-fields as on field,” the official said of the new mode of transport that they have chosen for themselves.
The tractors can be used – with or without a trailer – to move personnel as well as supplies for many of the 390 border outposts along the border with Nepal that has seen heightened security due to elections scheduled next month.
The SSB – that was originally raised in wake of the Indo-China conflict to inculcate feelings of national belonging in the border population and collect intelligence – has been reinvented as a full-fledged combatised border guarding force for the border with Nepal and Bhutan.
“We are also going to place tenders for 150 mules to facilitate movement of supplies and supervision in inhospitable border areas in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Uttranchal like Ranikhet,” a SSB official said.
Home ministry officials said it was in recognition of the absence of a road network along the Indo-Nepal border that the ministry was working on a proposal for construction of roads along the Nepal and Bhutan border.