In a move to reduce casualties amongst security personnel from landmines, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will soon deploy retired army experts in detecting and defusing landmines, known as Sappers, in naxal-affected areas.
The Sappers – who have the professional expertise to locate and defuse IEDs and landmines -- would be attached with each of the 62 battalions of the CRPF operating in the heavily-mined jungles of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, reducing the loss of life due to landmine blasts.
In 2008, as many as 80 SF personnel were killed in 53 landmine-based attacks by the Maoists. In 2009, this number had gone up to 123 personnel. In 2010, naxals killed 229 security personnel including 76 in the Dantewada attack.
An unspecified – but officials said a large number of security personnel – were again killed in IED blasts last year, prompting the home ministry to put the plan for inducting the army’s expertise on de-mining into the central forces.
Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday declared that the CRPF has initiated the process of employment of 434 retired junior commissioned officers of the army and 1736 retired non-commissioned officers on contractual basis.
Government sources said the retired officers could be given a three year contract.
They will form "counter-IED" (Improvised Explosive Device) in 62 CRPF battalions deployed for anti-naxal operations," Chidambaram said.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had last year decided against a “combat role” for the armed forces in anti-naxal operations and turned down the request to spare serving experts. The home ministry had later settled for deployment of ex-servicemen to undertake the specialised tasks that have killed hundreds of security personnel.
Chidambaram said the formal approval for the project to construct or fortify 400 police stations in 83 districts that bear the brunt of naxal violence had also come in. An initial amount of Rs 10 crore has been released to the state governments for implementation of the Rs 800 crore-scheme.
On the development side, the home minister said Rs 1,500 crore allocated to 60 districts – 48 of them naxal affected -- for carrying out development schemes would be spent by the middle of next month.
"It has gathered pace. By May 15, I think they expect that all the money alloted for 2010-11 would have been spent. And then for 2011-12, the spending will start," he said.