From missile launch pads to modern radar bases and on-the-way ammunition depots, the army and air force are sprucing up their operational preparedness and surveillance infrastructure on the country’s western front in Rajasthan, defence sources said.
Five districts of Rajasthan share a 1,070 km-long border with Pakistan with whom India has fought two full-fledged wars.
Though Rajasthan’s borders have remained relatively peaceful, defence experts feel that Pakistan’s overtly anti-India military establishment could push for creation of another front after Jammu and Kashmir in the near future.
Army sources said that the DRDO is executing two projects — a missile launch pad in Alwar and a missile interception base in Pali district — though the former has been held up due to opposition from villagers backed by mining mafia.
One of the biggest exercises taken up by the army is to set up a number of ammunition depots in Rajasthan — along the way from military bases in Mathura and Agra to the international border in Jailsalmer, Bikaner and Barmer.
At present, most of the ammunition and weaponry is transported all the way from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat as Rajasthan has limited storage facilities, the army sources said.
Official sources in the army said the idea behind establishing ammunition depots on way to the bordering districts is to increase mobility of the forces.
“The forces can move on and collect ammunition on the way. This will also help troops from Mathura and Agra who will not have to carry heavy ammunition with them,” an army official said.
According to a forest department official, army officials had even visited the Sariska tiger reserve looking for land to set up an ammunition depot.
“But they had to drop the plan since allotting land in tiger reserve is not permissible. They are now looking for an alternate location,” said the forest officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
As part of the plans, the Jaipur-based South Western Command has already decided to shift the 42 artillery division from Alwar to Bassi tehsil, around 30 km from Jaipur.
Sources said the army has started the process for acquiring about 5,000 bighas of land spread over three villages of Bassi.
The role of the SWC — also called Sapta Shakti command — gained prominence in 2011 when the army prepared a proposal for internal re-organisation. The proposal had preferred the SWC for controlling strategic operations of the force after re-organisation of all the army headquarters.
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force is also strengthening its radar system to detect and ward off air strikes from across the border.
Sources said the IAF is planning to set up state-of-the-art radars in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer and Sri Ganganagar districts.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the radars are capable of detecting enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges of more than 320 km.
A modern meteorological device has also been installed at the Jodhpur airport to increase night visibility, even during foggy nights.
Airbases at Phalaudi in Jodhpur, Uttarlai in Barmer, Jaisalmer and Bikaner will have similar devices soon.
Air force officials, however, refused to divulge details about the radar project.