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Govt puts its money on border

New Delhi, Feb. 28: The governmentís concern for putting brakes on illegal influx from Bangladesh is clearly reflected in this yearís home ministry allocation.

The raise for the India-Bangladesh border works has been a whopping Rs 200.68 crore for the financial year 2003-2004, up from last yearís Rs 147 crore.

However, the overall budget for the home ministry, which is in charge of internal security, has not gone up very much. The police budget, under which paramilitary forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, the National Security Guard, the Indo-Tibetan Police Force, the Assam Rifles and the Special Service Bureau are included, is just Rs 10,408.67 crore as against last yearís figure of Rs 10743.20 crore.

Even more inexplicable is the outlay for the modernisation of police, which has come down by Rs 50 crore. Last year, the police modernisation scheme was allotted Rs 700 crore.

The Intelligence Bureau has got an increase of Rs 30 crore and the Special Protection Group received a Rs 10-crore annual hike in its outlay for 2003-2004.

Since the attack on Parliament in December 2001, guarding the international border with Bangladesh is not merely a move against ordinary Bangladeshi migrants but from terrorists, who the home ministry believes are being sent across from there by Pakistanís Inter-Services Intelligence.

Officials say guarding the eastern border has become as much of a security concern for India as the western side. The erection of barbed wire fencing in the eastern sector has so far progressed at snailís pace. The focus in earlier years had been solely on the western sector covering Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan, which had for the most part been fenced and flood-lit to keep off intruders.

The 4,096-km boundary with Bangladesh has by and large been left unprotected. Just about 855 km has been fenced. The border adjoins the northeastern states and West Bengal. In the last budget, the money for fencing in this sector was Rs 36 crore. This year, it has been raised to Rs 80 crore.

Building roads along the barbed wire fencing along the border is also part of the government strategy to make patrolling easier. Much of the funds meant for the border are being used for fencing, floodlights, roads and bridges.

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