Centre nod to 4700 community, 19000 individual bunkers

Jammu’s border people to get safe shelters

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 1: A decision that would benefit the border dwellers, both along Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu region, the Government of India has, in principle, agreed to construction of 4700 community bunkers and 19,000 individual bunkers in safer areas for the people living within Pakistan’s shelling and firing range to protect them at the time of any eventuality by Pakistan.
The Centre would bear entire cost of construction of community as well as individual bunkers. It has also asked the State Government to construct some bunkers on its own to help the people living on the Zero Line, where mortar shelling and firing by the Pakistani Rangers has almost become a regular feature.
Sources told the Excelsior that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had himself seen plight of the border dwellers, who were putting up at a relief camp for past several days in Nowshera town of Rajouri district due to intense mortar shelling by Pakistan army in forward areas of LoC in Nowshera sector. After that Pakistan has also resorted to heavy shelling and firing along International Border in Arnia, RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors in Jammu and Samba districts.
The Government now has been giving final shape to construction of bunkers for the people of border areas on LoC and IB and, according to sources, it has agreed, in principle, to a proposal that 4700 community and 19,000 individual bunkers would be constructed for the people of border areas in safer zones.
“The bunkers would be located in the areas not falling within Pakistan’s shelling and firing range but wouldn’t be far away from the houses of border people. The locations would be identified in such a way that the border people are able to shift to the bunkers within few minutes of mortar shelling and firing,’’ sources said.
They added that individual bunkers would be small with one large room equipped with kitchen and bathroom but having enough ventilation to keep the people inside sustained for some days. The community bunkers would be quite large having capacity to accommodate around 30 people i.e. three to four families together with one large kitchen and couple of bathrooms to help people stay there for few days.
“Designing both community as well as individual bunkers has almost been finalized,’’ sources said, adding that the Centre could shortly announce the proposal after which necessary facilities like identification of land and names of executing agencies would be finalized. Army and BSF were reported to be on board on the Centre Government proposal for construction of bunkers for the border people.
Disclosing that construction of bunkers would cover all five border districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua along International Border and Poonch and Rajouri on Line of Control, sources said number of the bunkers would be sanctioned district wise keeping in view the population living in each district within shelling and firing range.
“The Government of India wants to set the process for construction of bunkers into motion as early as possible as mortar shelling has virtually become an almost regular feature on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts while International Border is also activated after regular intervals by Pakistan,’’ sources said, adding that the people living with shelling and firing range had to shift either to the houses of their relatives or relief camps set up by the administration in safer zones.
In some cases, they pointed out, the Government had to close down schools to accommodate the border migrants, which badly affects studies of local students. Construction of bunkers would help administration to keep running educational institutions uninterrupted.
Presently, some people have constructed small bunkers at basement of their houses, both along LoC as well as IB. However, number of such people was very few and majority of people had to confine themselves either inside the houses or desert homes and shift to safer zones.
Sources said the Centre Government has also asked the State Government to construct some bunkers in the border areas from their own funds for welfare of the people.
“This would raise number of the bunkers and benefit more people,’’ sources said.
It may be mentioned here that during past few months, Pakistan army’s mortar shelling and firing has become almost a regular feature on the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts with Nowshera sector being the worst hit followed by Balakote, Mendhar, Shahpur, Sabjian, Manjakote etc, where some security personnel and civilians have lost their lives while many others were injured. Large number of cattle have also perished while houses were damaged.
Few days back, Pakistani Rangers had activated International Border in Arnia, RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors in which a BSF jawan and a woman were killed while 15 others were injured. On the International Border also, a number of cattle were killed and injured and large number of houses were damaged.
The shelling and firing had forced people to migrate to safer zones both on LoC as well as IB.