The idea is to enable the border guarding forces to monitor the movement of Pakistani and Chinese troops in real time, track terrorist infiltration, map terrain and communicate effectively in remote areas, besides assessing the strength of soldiers and artillery deployed by neighbours near the border in case of a stand-off.
Sources in the government told TOI that top bureaucrats in the home ministry recently held several rounds of meetings with BSF, ITBP, SSB and ISRO officials, during which it was discussed whether a single satellite would be enough to monitor activities on the borders or if each force needed to be provided a dedicated satellite.
It was felt that command, control, communication, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance abilities of border security forces — the first line of border defence — needed to be made impregnable, they said. The proposal is in the initial stages but sources said the government was serious about it.
TOI’s attempts to get comments from the MHA and senior officials of border guarding forces remained unsuccessful.
An officer, who did not want to be named, said, “Satellites can play an important role in border management, and India has some of the best ones in Asia. While defence forces already use space technology, border forces depend on intelligence shared by central agencies like IB, RAW and National Technical Research Organisation. They also face poor communication issues in areas like Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir Valley. With satellite technology for real-time information, future incidents can be better dealt with.”
India shares over 15,000km of borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The armed forces currently use 13 ISRO satellites to watch land and maritime boundaries.
The Cartosat-2 series advanced remote sensing satellite, launched on June 23, has added teeth to India’s military surveillance capabilities as its high-resolution PAN camera can cover a swathe of 9.6km and its spatial resolution is less than one metre.
The MHA is also providing border forces with modern electronic surveillance equipment like night-vision devices, thermal imagers, battlefield surveillance radars, direction finders, unattended ground sensors and high-powered telescopes.