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India to deploy hovercraft for surveillance in 'Harami Nala'

June 23, 2013 20:24 IST

India is planning to deploy a hovercraft for keeping surveillance in 'Harami Nala'-- a 22 km long water channel accessible from Pakistan -- infamous for being prone to infiltration from the neighbouring nation.

The modern machines, if inducted, will also be deployed in regions around Sir Creek-- a matter of maritime dispute between the two nations.

"The proposal for hovercraft is already there. Two hovercraft are to be provided. The matter is being looked into by ministry of home affairs," Deputy Inspector General of Border Security Force A S Rathore, in charge of Bhuj sector, told PTI here.

A hovercraft, also known as an air-cushion vehicle, can move at a high speed over land, water and mud. Harami Nala is a sluggish and shallow water channel of 22 km length and 1.5 km in breadth within the territorial border of India.

It is accessible from the Pakistan side through a canal or channel approximate two km long and 50 metres wide. "Harami Nala along the international border cannot be accessed from the Indian side because the area North and South of this Nala is marshy being part of Runn of Kutch," said another official of the BSF.

At present, India has procured two All Terrain Vehicles for patrolling in this area. "If we have hovercraft, it will further help in keeping a close watch," the official said. The hovercraft can also be deployed for surveillance in 'Sir Creek' area.

Sir Creek-- a sea water body of 60 km length and about six km wide-- is navigable during high tide by medium sized mechanised craft. "During low tide the land mass gets swampy and difficult for patrolling," he said.

India has also deployed floating Border out posts for patrolling in creek areas falling into India-Pakistan borderin Gujarat state. Sir Creek-- which is under dispute between the two nations-- is also rich in hydrocarbons and for abundance of sea products like fish and crab.

As Indian fishermen can't access these areas, hence Pakistani fishermen often come to Indian Maritime border for fishing, the official said.

As many as 85 fishermen had been arrested by the BSF so far this year for fishing in Indian waters of creek areas.  The BSF is strongly guarding the country's border in this area despite difficult terrain.

It has a team of elite 'crocodile commandos' in a Border out post at Koteshar, about 165 km from Bhuj, adept in under water fighting. The force is also keeping tight vigil in creek areas which has a very hostile terrain consisting of numerous raised grounds having mangroves and a network of water channels which are quite shallow where all movements are dependent on tide.

From May to September the area is lashed by very strong winds and the water in the creeks is very turbulent making it difficult for patrolling.

"Both ATVs and hovercraft will further help in area domination," the official said, adding that the country also get help from unmanned aerial vehicle to check any infiltration.

Ashwini Shrivastava in Koteshwar, Gujarat