Kolkata: The exploitation of uninhabited islands of the Sundarbans by anti-national elements and the need for comprehensive mapping of the area was discussed at length at a meeting of defence and security agencies here on Friday.
The issue cropped up at the second annual lead intelligence agency conference for stakeholders of West Bengal and Odisha at the headquarters, Coast Guard Region (Northeast). The Indian Coast Guard is the lead intelligence agency for coastal borders and the coordinating agency for coastal security.
With 48 of the 102 islands in the Sundarbans uninhabited, the exploitation of such islands by the anti-national elements was deliberated upon by the agencies which included navy, army, Central Industrial Security Force, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, besides the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Border Security Force, National Security Guards and Coastal Police.
Comprehensive mapping of Sundarbans and augmentation of Marine Police for an effective surveillance also came up during the talks.
The conference focussed on hammering out the hurdles for forming the formidable Intelligence Network in both the states for an integrated seamless flow of information among central and state agencies, a Coast Guard release said.
The vulnerabilities owing to reasons of topography and riverine patches along India-Bangladesh borders was one of the most key agenda of the conference.
The porous nature of the border in the recent past has led to numerous trans-border problems including infiltration, smuggling of arms and contraband goods, and illegal movement into West Bengal. (IANS)
In a joint operation, Border Security Forces (BSF) troopers and the Punjab Police have recovered 22kg of heroin in Punjab’s Ferozepur sector following exchange of fire with Pakistani smugglers near the international border, a BSF officer said on Saturday.
The encounter took place late on Friday following a tip-off that smugglers were trying to send heroin consignment into India.
At least one Pakistani smuggler was injured in the exchange of fire as blood stains were found during search of the area on Saturday, BSF officer D.S. Rajpurohit said.
The BSF recovered a pistol and one Pakistani Sim card.
The BSF also arrested three Indian smugglers who were waiting close to the border fence to collect the heroin consignment.
The smugglers were trying to smuggle the heroin consignment using a plastic pipe across the border fence.
The heroin is worth nearly Rs 110 crore in the international market.
The Ferozepur border is around 275 km from here.
Punjab shares a 553-km-long barbed-wire fenced international border with Pakistan. (IANS)
Siachin, Jan 11, 2016: Terrible Condition of soldiers in Indian Army is not something unheard of! A shocking revelation by Border Security Force (BSF) jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav has erupted new controversy amidst army. He has posted four videos showing the deplorable condition of food served to the jawans. Though his peers seem to be happy about it but there has been pressure on him to take down the videos.
Yadav said that he was transferred from the BSF camp to the headquarters and has been assigned a plumber’s duty and also told that he has been asked to take down the videos. Although Yadav requested Prime Minister to take a look into this matter.
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While confessing his lack of fear for loosing his job, Yadav also told India Today that he did not think action would be taken against him because his video had gone viral. “I am not afraid of losing my job…I have shown what the reality is at the post”. “If soldiers [are] benefited because of me, then I am ready to fight.”
“Constable Tej Bahadur as an individual has a difficult past. From initial days of his career, he needed regular counselling. Different correction mechanics have been applied for the individuals welfare as he was habitual offender of absenteeism without permission, chronic alcoholism, misbehaving and using force with superior officers and certain other acts against good order and discipline,” rediff.com quoted the BSF statement as saying.
The statement claimed that because of such behavior, Yadav had mostly served on headquarters “under supervision of some dedicated superior officer.”
The BSF claimed that “He has been sent only 10 days ago to the (current) place of deployment on road head to facilitate support to high altitude forward locations which he has shown in current selfie, on experimental basis to observe the improvements of past counselling.”
They also alleged that no one else had a problem with the food that was served when the DIG and the Commanding officer visited him and other BSF jawans last week.
Yadav belongs to the 29 battalion Seema Suraksha Bal. Jawans in the video could be heard saying, “Neither the media, nor any minister tries to take a note on how are we going through this (harsh weather). Our conditions are still worst. (humare halat wahi darbartar hain). After this, I will send three videos that will show how our officials are mistreating us. We do not want to blame any government, because they give everything we need, but our senior officials sell everything (for their own profit).”
The video serves two purposes of representing the rot in the system, it has also not gone down well with Yadav’s seniors. The BSF has meanwhile lodged an inquiry into Yadav’s allegations.
New Delhi: Unregulated tourism and rapidly increasing temperatures are posing “irreversible damage” to the Sundarbans biosphere reserve, one of the largest mangrove habitats in the world, environmental groups warn.
Uncontrolled tourism is polluting the reserve, which is shared by India and Bangladesh, to an extent that is “beyond rectification,” Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), told reporters.
“Tourism, especially for tiger viewing, is increasing exponentially in the area and needs to be monitored. It is causing major pollution, as huge quantities of plastic material and other debris are dumped into the water,” she said.
The Sundarbans, a delta of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basin, is spread over 9,630 square km (3,718 square miles).
The Indian side of Sundarbans covers a 4,000-square-km (1,544-square-mile) area with a population of around 5 million.
Out of 102 islands within the Sundarbans, 54 are inhabited while 48 are forested. The forested part has three wildlife sanctuaries and a national park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
‘A heightened state of danger’
The largest habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sundarbans is home to five critically endangered reptiles, including the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and River Terrapin.
The endangered and near-threatened species in Sundarbans include the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle, Indian Rock Python, King Cobra, Greater Adjutant Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Fishing Cat and Gangetic Dolphin.
According to official figures, about 175,000 tourists visited the Sundarbans tiger reserve, while another 42,000 people visited the biosphere reserve in 2015.
Besides large-scale tourism, climate change is also posing a threat to Sundarbans, according to World Wildlife Fund-India (WWF-India).
A Climate Adaptation Report released by the group warned that Sundarbans was “already in the midst of a heightened state of danger.”
Atmospheric warming is causing thermal expansion of waters, inducing a sea-level rise of about 12 mm per year, the report said, adding that surface air temperatures over the Bay of Bengal have been rising at a rate of 0.019 degrees Celsius (0.034 degrees Fahrenheit) per year.
“Given the disproportionately heavy impact that climate change is expected to have on this delta area, the need to improve adaptive management and develop more appropriate solutions for this unique system has become acutely urgent,” the WWF report said.
Ratul Saha, who heads WWF’s Sundarbans Landscape team, said, “The current policies and patterns of development have to be completely revised, or else the situation would be catastrophic. The livelihoods and the survival of the people are at risk.”
Climate change has been found to be responsible for several cyclonic storms and increased frequency of extreme weather events in the recent past in the Sundarbans, Saha said. It has also been causing coastal erosion, change in embankments, acidification of waters and submergence of islands, he added.
Another major threat to the habitat is the increasing salinity in the waters, which is resisting the growth of mangroves, locals said.
Besides rising salinity levels, infiltration from Bangladesh into the Indian side of Sundarbans in West Bengal state is a matter of concern for wildlife conservationists.
“Infiltration does take place. We cannot dispute that. But these intruders come only during the honey season [April-May],” Pradeep Vyas, Chief Wildlife Warden in West Bengal told reporters.
“We are jointly patrolling the border areas with the Border Security Force and Indian Coast Guard to check infiltration,” he said.
Vyas said his department was doing its best to protect the habitat.
“We have banned the use of polythene bags. We are also trying to develop new tourism destinations to take pressure off the over-utilized parts [of the Sundarbans],” he said.
(The article was originally published in benarnews.org)