To minimise the loss of lives of security personnel in the Maoist stronghold of Bastar, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to employ robots to detect and defuse explosive devices, sources said Monday.
The National Highways have been targeted by Maoist guerrillas, who plant explosive devices buried two to three feet in the ground beneath roads crisscrossing the area, to curtail the movement of security forces.
Security men deployed in sprawling Bastar region, comprising seven districts and spread across 40,000 sq km, said the devices sometimes remain hidden for years before the ultras use them to ambush security forces.
Hundreds of security force troopers have so far been killed in explosions, many of which are triggered by remote control.
Landmine detection vehicles too have been blown up by insurgents.
Now, a device developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), could come to the aid of the troopers here.
The DRDO has long been working on a device that could detect and defuse explosive devices, and has now successfully developed a robotic technique. This is already in use in the US army, sources said.
The five-to-eight-feet-high robots function with a combination of digital and modern receiving units.
Programmes related to the operation of its long pointed arms to retrieve and defuse explosive devices would be fed into a mini-computer.
To operate the robots, technical experts will also be present in the combing squad of the police and para-military troopers in Bastar, where Maoists have been active since the late 1980s.
"These robots could be commanded from a distance of up to 8-10 feet. After getting directives from its operator about the suspected area, the robot will scan the site and confirm or deny the presence of explosives within a few minutes," sources said.
Sources said the device has already been tested.