Shortfalls in budget 2019 has left the BSF disheartened
The 2019-20 budget announced by the government for the home ministry saw a modest 5.17 per cent hike over the last year. The amount allocated was Rs 1,19,025 crore, which is Rs 5,858 crore more than the last fiscal. The allocation this year has put focus on special issues such as on improving police infrastructure, border areas and modernisation of police forces.
The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), which include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Assam Rifles and National Security Guard (NSG), received an allocation of Rs 71,713.9 crore for 2019-20. The last fiscal the budget announced for the CAPFs was Rs 67,779.75 crore.
When it comes to internal security, the CRPF is an indispensable force, which is also engaged in anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, besides internal security duties have been allocated Rs 23,963.66 crore for 2019-20, the 2018-19 figure was Rs 22,646.63 crore. The BSF which is responsible for the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders also received a slight hike this year with the allocation of Rs 19,650.74 crore, the allocation to the BSF was Rs 18,585.96 crore in 2018-19.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which falls under the home ministry, and is responsible for gathering internal intelligence, received Rs 2,384.1 crore this year, the figure was Rs 2,056.05 crore in the last fiscal. The Special Protection Group (SPG) was allocated Rs 535.45 crore in the budget, as against Rs 411.68 crore in 2018-19. The SPG is responsible for the security of the prime minister, former prime ministers and their close family members.
The home ministry allocations were increased in the years following the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, with successive budgets getting impressive hikes. The trend has, however, been discontinued this year with increasing number of ex-chiefs saying proper allocations have not been made considering the responsibilities each force has been given. FORCE spoke to multiple former paramilitary chiefs who said the proposed modernisation plans wouldn’t be possible with such a budgetary allocation.
Being the world’s largest border guarding force, the strength of the BSF has grown from a mere 25,000 to about 2.5 lakh since 1965. The force is faced with innumerable challenges. The duties include guarding the borders, fighting the militants and Naxals in the homeland, maintenance of law and order, election duties and a number of other responsibilities. The force, therefore, needs a sound budget for building strong infrastructure, advanced weaponry and equipment among other things. The budget 2019, however, doesn’t have much to offer for the BSF and falls flat on the promises made by the government.
A lot of ex-servicemen from the force are dismayed at the lack of seriousness on the part of the government in addressing the core issues. Sanjiv Krishan Sood, who has served as director general BSF, said the force has a number of new proposals in the pipeline and the budget of Rs 19,650.74 crore is inadequate to fulfil all of them. “I don’t think it is adequate. Keeping in view the requirement of modernisation, with trials going on for Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) both in the east and west, the requirement of repair and maintenance of fences, the salary rise of the personnel, etc, the budget is inadequate.”
The CIBMS project initiated by the home ministry is expected to vastly improve the capability of the BSF in detecting and controlling cross-border crimes like illegal infiltration, smuggling of contraband goods, human trafficking and cross-border terrorism, etc. After successfully completing about 71 kms on Indo-Pakistan Border (10 kms) and Indo-Bangladesh Border, stage-II and stage-III covering about 1955 kms of the border have been taken up, which will need significant funds. CIBMS involves deployment of a range of state-of-the-art surveillance technologies — thermal imagers, infra-red and laser-based intruder alarms, aerostats for aerial surveillance, unattended ground sensors that can help detect intrusion bids, radars, sonar systems to secure riverine borders, fibre-optic sensors and a command and control system that shall receive data from all surveillance devices in real time.
Sood said the modest budgetary allocation will lead to deficiencies in equipment for jawans. “The repair and maintenance of existing equipment and also of fence gets hampered as a result of which vigil on the border is negatively impacted. The budget deficiency will, therefore, result in compromising our security at the borders,” he added.
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