With tension mounting on India’s border with Pakistan, especially in Jammu & Kashmir, defence bases in Gujarat have been put on high alert. According to officials, troops have been maintaining a tight vigil, especially since Wednesday.
Sources in the defence sector told DNA that the army, navy and air force were keeping a close watch on movement along both land and water boundaries. “Gujarat shares the longest land border with Pakistan as compared to other states of the country, so we have to be extra vigilant,” the sources added. Incidentally, chances of infiltration were higher in the state due to lack of fence in the border areas.
According to the sources, after the political unrest in Pakistan, there were higher chances of infiltration into India, to divert the attention of the people of Pakistan. The three wings of the armed forces have geared up to tackle any situation that could arise in the western part of the country, they added.
The Border Security Force (BSF), too, sounded an alert along the border, after a flag meeting was held on Wednesday. The first such meeting in the country’s western part, since the recent escalation of tension, was held between BSF officials and Pakistani Rangers at Vighu Kot Pillar No. 1111 in Kutch.
Although it was a routine flag meeting, held every three months, sources said that many important issues related to the smooth functioning at the borders were discussed. Many local issues were covered in the meeting, they added. “The flag meeting is a routine meeting, wherein the soldiers and Rangers from both the side sit together to discuss the local issues related to the security,” sources in BSF said.
According to AERA’s website, though the specific purposes for levying it are not defined, UDF is usually imposed on passengers to ensure that airport operators are fairly compensated for investments on services they provide.
Passengers’ associations have taken umbrage to the move. “The hike is unjustified. On the one hand, the aviation ministry talks about increasing passenger traffic, and on other, it allows levying of charges which increase cost of air travel, thereby deterring passengers,” complains Sudhakar Reddy, president of Air Passengers’ Association. He assures that he will take up the demand for a UDF rollback with the authorities concerned. In all, the AERA has approved a 155% hike in tariff, which include charges for landing, parking, housing, aerobridges and fuel handling.
Experts say airlines seeking to recover these increased investments will pass on the burden of the charges to passengers, which will make fares steeper.
According to an estimate by leading aviation consultancy firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), the passenger traffic at the Mumbai airport is likely to hit the optimum of 40 million passengers annually once the new integrated terminal becomes operational from the next year.
The airport is run by Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), a consortium led by infrastructure major GVK Power. The cost of construction has increased from Rs9,802 crore to Rs12,380 crore. MIAL sources blame the cost escalation on the government’s delays in taking calls on key decisions. “It looks like the government just thinks about the airport operator’s benefits and never considers passengers’ concerns. The levying of UDF is an example,” complainsUmesh Nair, a frequent flier from Andheri.
Cases of illegal infiltration in western India
- Ten Lashker-e-Toiba terrorists infiltrated into the Indian waters through Gujarat after hijacking an Indian boat, Kuber, used for fishing, in 2008.
- A 77-metre-long, 1,000-tonne ship, MT Pavit, drifted onto Mumbai’s shore in August 2011, undetected.
- Twenty Somali pirates entered freely a coastal town of Gujarat and were arrested only after residents informed the police about them in August 2011.