Water robots to help BSF access difficult riverine stretches

CHANDIGARH: We have projected an immediate requirement of 14 such systems that can be deployed to carry out routine surveillance or searches in weed-infested areas, narrow cervices and shallow waters.

editorial@tribune.com

BQ:

We have projected an immediate requirement of 14 such systems that can be deployed to carry out routine surveillance or searches in weed-infested areas, narrow cervices and shallow waters. — A BSF officer

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22

The Border Security Force (BSF) is procuring remotely operated water surveillance crafts to patrol and search riverine areas along the international borders that are difficult to access on foot or by conventional patrol boats.

“We have projected an immediate requirement of 14 such systems that can be deployed to carry out routine surveillance or searches in weed-infested areas, narrow cervices and shallow waters that can make ideal hiding spots for smugglers or infiltrators but are difficult to patrol,” a BSF officer said.

Also referred to as “water robots”, the system will consist of a small powered vessel equipped with day-and-night cameras as well as other sensors capable of detecting human presence or objects and transmit the images to the controllers.

Besides providing better access to sensitive spots, there is also a safety angle involved as water robots would provide early warning to BSF patrols about the presence of an adversary and prevent any ambushes or unexpected encounters.

According to sources, the BSF requires systems that have an operating range of at least 500 metres on the water surface and can be deployed by a two-man crew operating from a mother boat or the river bank.

A large number of riverine gaps exist along the course of Sutlej and Ravi in Punjab, which criss-cross the border. Several rivulets in the Kathua region of J&K and the marshy region of Kutch in Gujarat also pose challenge due to their terrain. A similar challenge is faced by the BSF in the east along the courses of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and their numerous tributaries as they flow into Bangladesh from India

These stretches cannot be fenced due to the vagaries of the terrain, thus making these vulnerable to infiltration. There are over 40 such points along the western border identified by the BSF as vulnerable.

As part of its attempts to plug such gaps, the BSF is experimenting with erecting a “laser wall”, which is a complex interface of laser beams, receptors, thermal imagers, infrared and other sensors installed at varying depths across a designated stretch of land so as to create a kind of invisible fence.

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