ITBP gets local ponies, yaks to sustain troops at China border
New Delhi: To strengthen Indian positions along the Indo-China frontier, ITBP has launched a drive to procure local varieties of tough mules and yak to reach supplies to its snow-hit posts as also to keep in good humour the native population while securing the border.
The border guarding force, which secures 3,488 km of this icy frontier from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh, has launched an aggressive drive to purchase sturdy livestock like horses, mules, ponies, yak and dogs from the locals living in these areas.
"The initiative has been launched keeping in mind two things. First, by purchasing local born and reared animals the force is getting trained and tough four-legged companions who are accustomed to the Himalayan climate and hence are more reliable. They need less care and rarely get ill.
"Secondly, the force stands to make some good friends with the local population as it gives money and financially empowers the locals by procuring these animals from them at government rates which are quite handsome," a senior Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) commander said.
Earlier, the official said, the procurement was done in a semi-centralised fashion and the ground units based in Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Dehradun (Uttarakhand) or Guwahati (Assam) used to float tenders and procure animals for the ITBP Animal Transport (AT) wing.
These animals were later sent to the upper reaches from where they would trek to border posts.
"While what ITBP got was good, what it is getting now is the best. A good number of yaks and ponies have been procured under the new initiative which is being conducted under the modified strategy of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) of the Union Home Ministry which aims to take along local border population while securing country's borders," sources said without giving out the exact number of animals bought.
To supplement these numbers, the force is also hiring over 70 personnel for working as handlers and caretakers in the AT wing of ITBP. The force calls this wing as its most 'vital' component and 'backbone' for survival in the hills and extremely harsh border areas.