Paramilitary forces on upgrade mode
In the light of fresh challenges thrown up by the Mumbai terror attacks and Naxal violence in several states, the Home Ministry is rushing to upgrade the operational effectiveness of the paramilitary forces.
These forces are being re-equipped at breakneck speed with new weapons, bullet-proof jackets, riot gear and armoured vehicles.
Global equipment suppliers who have recently been camping in New Delhi and displaying their lethal wares, estimate that the India market for internal-security related equipment will be worth a whopping Rs 45,000 crore over the period of next two to three years.
Home secretary G K Pillai, who inaugurated a homeland security exhibition here this week, said that the security industry was recession-proof and offered numerous technological solutions for forces involved in internal security duties.
"The challenges are many. We have had a series of defence security exhibitions in last one year which have given us a taste of what equipments are available. Some of the paramilitary forces, and state police forces have already moved ahead and have taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to them," Pillai had said.
In the last two months alone, the Home Ministry has given sanction to a number of modernisation programmes of paramilitary forces, including procurement of 59,000 light-weight bullet-proof jackets.
From CRPF to BSF NSG to ITBP, all such forces are in the process of acquiring new weapons, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters.
"Modernisation is an ongoing process. Perhaps after the 26/11, there has been a greater impetus to upgrading of arms and ammunition," a senior paramilitary officer said.
The NSG has recently placed an order of over 800 state- of-the-art SIG rifles, something which certain other forces are also looking at. Last month, the MHA has sanctioned procurement of 378 automatic grenade launchers and related ammunition at a total cost of Rs 37.83 crore.
It also sanctioned procurement of 34,377 carbines for the BSF at a cost of Rs 137.51 crore. The CISF, which guards the airports, nuclear plants and other sensitive installations, already uses Glock pistols and will also procure 1,000 more such weapons at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore.
Equipment manufacturers estimate that the security budget for both the Central and state governments this year has increased to over Rs 1.27 lakh crore. This is a 35 per cent increase over the previous year.