HT EXCLUSIVE: House panel suggests ‘floating fence’ model on sand dunes at Pak border
Shifting sand dunes, a bane for the Indian forces guarding the international border that Rajasthan shares with Pakistan, may get a “floating fence” to keep intruders from the neighbouring country at bay.jaipur Updated: Jun 14, 2017 19:20 IST
Shifting sand dunes, a bane for the Indian forces guarding the international border that Rajasthan shares with Pakistan, may get a “floating fence” to keep intruders from the neighbouring country at bay.
The idea to install the “floating fence”, like the one installed on the USA-Mexico border, has been mooted by the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs.
In its report on ‘border security: capacity building and institutions’ presented in the Rajya Sabha, the committee, headed by former finance minister P Chidambaram, noted that the fencing in the Thar desert region had proved to be ineffective because of the shifting sand dunes.
The committee asked the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to set up a technical expert committee “to examine all solutions, such as the fencing used along the US-Mexico border” on shifting sand dunes. For the past several years, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has been working on finding a solution to this problem.
Rajasthan shares 1,037 km long border with Pakistan. The border was sealed in 1996 with barbed fencing, but gaps developed in a 32.5-km stretch in Shahgarh Bulge area of Jaisalmer district due the problem of shifting sand dunes.
Before finalising the report, the parliamentary committee discussed the issue with the CPWD and the MHA officials to find a lasting solution. The MHA officials told the committee members that they have asked the CPWD to conduct a geo-technical survey of the border area of Rajasthan. The MHA, officials said, was examining the possibility of a study to be done by a premier agency, such as IIT, for this purpose.
It was also informed that the BSF was considering the option of dense plantation in the border areas to stabilize the sand dunes.
“We would like to draw the attention of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to a fence erected by the USA, on its border with Mexico having geographical terrain similar to Thar desert, which can be repositioned mechanically to appropriate border line and in effect floats on top of the shifting sand dunes,” the repor, submitted in April, reads.
The “floating fence”, also called “the sand dragon” by the locals, comprises 16-foot tall steel tubes filled with concrete strung tightly together. Triangular mounts on which the tubes are places aren’t fixed into the ground, allowing them to move freely with the wind and the shifting dunes.
Contacted, DIG, Border Security Force Rajasthan frontier, Ravi Gandhi, said that a single-row fencing was erected in the area. “Construction of fence in Shahgarh Bulge on the shifting sand dune area is difficult but (we had erected) a single row fencing that is now being maintained and repaired, whenever it gets damaged,” the DIG said.
Earlier, the BSF had discussed with the state forest department officials a plan to bridge the gap on the border with heavy plantation to prepare the ground for proper fencing. The dense plantation can help in stabilizing shifting sands.