After suffering multiple delays, the first 'climate-controlled' border post of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) along the icy and strategic Pangong Tso lake area in Ladakh along the Chinese LAC is expected to be operationalised this year, officials said.
The BoP or the border out post is located in Lukung, close to the Pangong Tso lake area of Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese soldiers are currently involved in a standoff.
The border post is counted as an ambitious strategic project as the facility will allow armed ITBP troops to be deployed in the forward areas for a long time amid sub-zero temperatures and very cold and harsh climatic conditions prevalent in the region.
Officials said while the construction of the concrete structure for the 'composite' border post has finished, the temperature control measures and few ancillary works are yet to be tested and finished.
The project is being executed by the National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC), a PSU whose majority shares were acquired by WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy Services) under the Jal Shakti Ministry, sometime back.
While the construction of the composite BoP is complete, the temperature control measures are yet to be stabilised, official sources said.
While the desired indoor temperature is about 22-23 degrees, what is being achieved at present is about 11-12 degrees, they said.
The recent change of guard at the NPCC and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has further pushed the deadline of completion of this project. However, it is being expedited and it is expected that the BoP will be operational by this year, they said.
When asked if the current standoff between the Army, ITBP troops and the Chinese PLA soldiers at this front is the reason for speeding up the work, two officials privy to the development told PTI that this was already a "fast tracked" project.
ITBP Director General (DG) S S Deswal had last year said at a press conference that the climate controlled BoP project has been delayed.
"We are requesting them to expedite the work. We are making efforts to ensure that the work is complete without further delay," he had said in October last year.
The source of energy at this modern BoP, which is expected to be replicated at more ITBP LAC locations, will be clean fuel or solar energy, and not diesel or kerosene.
These high-altitude border posts will also have facilities to store water in liquid form.
While the normal temperature in the areas around Pangong Tso lake dips to about minus 40 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside this post can be regulated between 22-28 degree Celsius.
The border guarding force, as per an official of the Union Home ministry, has also sent an update to them about the creation of 47 new BoPs at this front from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh criss-crossing a multitude of terrains like mountains, plains, rivers and other frozen heights across the 3,488 km of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The mountain warfare-trained ITBP is mandated to guard the LAC and its posts are located between 9,000 fts-18,700 fts in the western, middle and eastern sectors of this front and has about 180 BoPs at present.
The force in coordination with various LAC sharing states has submitted a report to the Union Home ministry identifying the land parcels to create the new BoPs, the ministry official said.
However, as these areas are located in very hard terrain regions with almost negligible modes of transport, finding contractors and labourers is a tough task, he added.
However, BoP construction work is being monitored very scrupulously, he added.
The paramilitary force has "enhanced" its capacity to reach up to the farthest point along the LAC as it added 25 posts in the past five years to ensure effective preparedness on this icy front marred by perceptional difference of the borderline, DG Deswal had said last year.
This also has led to an increase in ITBP patrols in these areas, a senior official said.
The ITBP, in the backdrop of the recent standoff, has reinforced its numbers and is working with the Army to resolve the tension, officials had said recently.
Unconfirmed reports said as many as 10 companies (about 1,000 personnel) of the force have been sent to the front in the recent past.
The force under the Union Home ministry, about 90,000 personnel in strength, was raised in the aftermath of the 1962 Chinese aggression and apart from its primary task of guarding the LAC, it renders a variety of internal security duties.