High attrition rate as a result of health issues due to inclement weather conditions has been a serious concern among the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), but adequate arrangements have been made to meet the medical emergency, top officials from ITBP on Thursday informed the standing committee on home affairs. The panel sought to know about the access to air support and the evacuation plans for the ITBP troops at the time of skirmishes with Chinese soldiers.

The border guarding force along with the Indian Army maintains vigil along 3,488 km of the India-China border. The Indian Army and China’s PLA have been locked in a tense border standoff over the past six months. “With the temperature dipping to minus 40 degree, complaints of frost bites, cardio-vascular diseases, loose tooth, psychological disorders and thyroid related issues are common among the jawans,” said a senior member of the panel on condition of anonymity.

He added: “They (jawans), according to ITBP, are being provided medical treatment at the Army hospital in Leh while doctors from ITBP have been trained with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science (NIMHANS) to impart counselling.” The parliamentary oversight body on home affairs, headed by Congress’ Anand Sharma, has 31 members, of whom 21 are from the Lok Sabha and 10 are from the Rajya Sabha.

ITBP also allayed fear on the use of better technology, weapons and equipment by the Chinese forces. “The officials informed that border guarding forces are fully equipped with modern gadgets and arms,” said a second member of the panel.

On the standoff with China, the ITBP informed the members that Chinese aggression along the LACs is very common but Indian security forces’ response has been effective. ITBP officials also gave a detailed presentation on the overall deployment, logistics, ration, supplies, training facilities and recruitment in the wake of the recent PLA aggression. The review meeting, officials said, lasted for over two hours during which the members sought to know about advanced patrol, joint patrol, overall preparedness and the number of border out posts (BOPs) operational during the winters.

To improve connectivity, officials said 11 roads of 277.5 km have been constructed in the first phase in the past five years under the border development programme while an additional 45 roads of 1,033.52 km have been approved for the second phase.