New Delhi: The government is set to clear a proposal to raise a dozen battalions and induct close to 12,000 fresh personnel in the Indo-China border guarding force ITBP to bolster the force's presence along this strategic frontier.
Official sources said an 'in-principle' approval has been granted by the Union Home Ministry in this direction after Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced sanctioning of 54 new Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh during the forces' Raising Day event last week.
In view of these additional posts along the Arunachal border, the ITBP had projected to the government that it would need to raise over a dozen battalions to man these new locations.
The raising of battalions would be done in a phased manner and in a time period of over five years.
"An in-principle approval has been made in this regard. Now that the Home Ministry has already cleared creation of 54 border posts, manpower recruitment and training for the task is the immediate necessity. The force is awaiting the final policy approval after which large-scale recruitment will be launched," they said.
The mountain-trained force has recently completed a "restructuring" which led to creation of nine new battalions and 1 sector headquarter keeping in mind ITBP's primary task of guarding the 3,488 km long frontier which largely witnesses adverse climatic conditions and snowy weather.
Apart from setting up of 54 new border outposts, the Home Minister had also announced a Rs 175 crore package for beefing up infrastructure along the border in Arunachal Pradesh during the same event.
The announcement was made by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who made it clear that India wanted to solve the border dispute with China through dialogue.
He had stated that "peace with honour" was the most important requirement for building good friendly relations with that country and other neighbours. All the new ITBP posts will be set up in Arunachal Pradesh where there are large gaps at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Arunachal Pradesh has a total of 1,126 km of its international border with China, second in length after Jammu and Kashmir which has a 1,597 km long frontier with India's eastern neighbour.
As part of modernisation and better border management planning of India's security mechanism along this border, prone to a spate of incursions, the posts will be, under the proposal, equipped with all the basic gadgets that the troops require to position themselves at these icy heights.
At present, India has 142 border posts along this 3,488 km long frontier with other border states being Himachal Pradesh (200 km), Uttarakhand (345 km) and Sikkim (220 km).
Arunachal Pradesh, at present, has close to 30 ITBP border posts but a need has been felt, according to the ITBP proposal, to bolster the presence of the paramilitary men in order to meet border challenges and future commitments.
The new posts, the sources said, will also help reduce the distance between two ITBP locations thereby enabling the patrols to coordinate better and keep a tight vigil in this sector which has seen instances of incursions from the other side in the past.
China has been objecting to any development of infrastructure along the LAC and setting up of border outposts leading to instances of stand-offs with India including during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to this country in September this year.
Singh also said the Government was looking into the demand for a dedicated air support for the ITBP personnel.
A number of ITBP posts at this frontier are located at glacial heights of 9,000-18,700 feet and they have to face heavy snow and blizzard conditions for a number of months in an year.
At present, the ITBP has 62 (including 4 service battalions) operational battalions which has close to 62,000 personnel and officers in them.