The Indo-Nepal border. The SSB has 700 border outposts along the 2,450km-long borders with Nepal and Bhutan from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh. (ANI)
The Indo-Nepal border. The SSB has 700 border outposts along the 2,450km-long borders with Nepal and Bhutan from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh. (ANI)

SSB to use image analysis at Nepal, Bhutan borders to monitor changes, troops

The move comes months after Nepal redrew its political map laying claim over strategically key areas, while India and China, this month, began disengagement of troops after an 8-month standoff
By Neeraj Chauhan
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 12:51 PM IST

The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which guards India’s frontiers with Nepal and Bhutan, plans to use space and map-based technologies Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) and Geographical Information System (GIS) to assess any physical changes at the borders, presence of troops, or weaponry as well as border crimes, people familiar with the matter said.

The move comes months after Nepal amended its constitution in June last year to redraw its political map laying claim over the strategically key areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura in Uttarakhand. India and China this month began disengagement of troops that have been involved in a standoff for eight months in Ladakh.

Also Read | Closely following reports of India, China troop disengagement: US

Indian troops earlier in 2017 crossed over to Doklam, a disputed territory between Bhutan and China, to prevent the Chinese People’s Liberation Army from building a road in the area.

The people cited above said the SSB has access to satellite-based GEOINT, which involves collecting information from analysis of images and data associated with a particular location. It uses imagery to survey and assess human activity and physical geography anywhere on earth.

IMINT (image intelligence), which is a part of GEOINT, can provide evidence of an operation, a force’s location, the size, nature, and location of command centres. It can over time provide an indication of increases or decreases in operations or movement. “It can help in monitoring activity over a period of time, such as construction, fortification, and changes in deployment,” said an internal document of SSB, reviewed by HT.

“The imagery and GIS data can help us do better profiling of the border. We would know if a new village has come up near the border at the Indo-Bhutan border; if China has moved any troops and to see if any of our border pillars are missing or displaced,” said an officer, requesting anonymity.

The SSB is also in the process of implementing the Counter Insurgency Operation Planning System and Border Operation Planning System software in all its field units. “The two software are being implemented primarily to analyse the data of arrests, seizures made at the border so that we understand the patterns and have better decision making,” the officer said.

The SSB has 700 border outposts along the 2,450-km long borders with Nepal and Bhutan from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh. It is the primary force for checking any illegal activity, trans-border crimes, smuggling, and unauthorised entry into India.

Tarun Wig, the co-founder of Innefu, a data analytics and cyber-security company, said GIS can provide a unified view of the entire theatre including terrain details, Intelligence inputs on an area, current activities, key points of concern. “It can help the organisation plan better, predict vulnerable areas, optimise resources and get a complete assessment at a click of a button.”

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