The army is all set to fence off infiltrators in the Kashmir Valley with a new improved all-weather barrier by next August as part of a strategy to overhaul border security.
The army had identified “high priority areas” — most vulnerable to infiltration — along 100km of the Pakistan border in the Valley to replace the existing fence with the new one, Northern Army commander lieutenant general DS Hooda told HT.
“The new fence will be twice as effective as the existing one. It will be hard to breach,” he said.
The construction will begin in April 2016 in “hot sectors” such as Tangdhar, Keran and Gurez that sit on major infiltration routes along the Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan.
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The new fence will come up in the Valley where every year repairs have to be carried out on least 300 km of the existing barrier for snow damage, adding to financial costs and allowing infiltrators to exploit gaps.
The fence will not be contiguous but built in segments to choke off infiltration hotspots.
Hooda said the fence would have the best of two designs -- an in-house army design and another developed by the Manali-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a defence research facility.
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By 2019, the army hopes to extend the new fence to 350km in the Valley that will cost nearly Rs 500 crore.
The new hybrid design was much improved compared to the existing one, Hooda said. Better material and structural changes will ensure minimum snow damage. It will also have a set of integrated sensors to detect intrusions. Standard military coils layered between rows of stronger pickets will be thicker. The iron pickets that are in use bend under snow.
“On a scale of 10, I would rate the new fence at 8-plus compared to a score of 5 for the earlier one,” Hooda said. The new fence has undergone winter trials and addresses weaknesses in the existing barrier, which runs for 590km in J&K.
Infiltrators often cut the fence to sneak into India. Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naveed captured alive after attacking a BSF convoy in Jammu on August 5 is believed to have entered India after cutting the fence in the Valley.