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Panel slams govt over delay in setting up posts at borders

Panel slams govt over delay in setting up posts at borders
It may prove to be a major setback for Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in its latest report has slammed the Centre for not constructing border outposts (BOP) at international borders of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

According to the findings of the department-related Parliamentary panel report, the government even after reducing the number of proposed BOPs from 509 to 422 alongside Pakistan and Bangladesh border, failed to complete the construction work in the given time.

"In order to reduce the inter-BOP distance to 3.5 km, the Centre had approved setting up of additional 509 posts at an estimated cost of Rs 1,832.50 crore in 2009, which was reduced to 422 and later revised to 326 posts," the panel said, adding, "The government failed to achieve the reduced target and constructed only 97 BOPs out of 326 posts by the end of 2016."

The committee has strongly recommended that the project must get completed by the targeted date of July 2018 without any further time and cost overrun. Given that no reasons were furnished by the MHA as why the number of border outposts was reduced from 509 to 422, the panel has recommended the government to stick to its original plan of setting up 509 BOPs in the interest of the security of the nation.

It's not that the Centre is going slow only on border outposts issue, the government has nothing much to defend itself on the construction of fencing along international borders as the MHA was able to complete only 21 km of fencing in the last 17 months since July 2015. The panel noted that a long stretch of 423.34 km has remained unfenced due to non-feasibility of physical barrier and deployment of non-physical barriers is still in its testing phase.

As the panel has observed that the government is set to miss its March 2019 deadline of sealing India-Bangladesh, the committee has asked the MHA to find out workable solutions to the issue and erect physical barriers at all feasible locations at the earliest.

Concerned over perpetraters crossing borders, the panel slammed the MHA over non-functional floodlights as even after floodlighting for 528 km has been sanctioned, borders yet to get floodlights. The committee, which is headed by P Chidambaram, has recommended regular maintenance of flood lights to minimise the damage.

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