MHA directs CAPFs to adopt BSF’s ‘beehives on border fence’ model across the country

The Union home ministry of India has directed all central paramilitary and allied forces to replicate a ‘beehives on border fence’ beekeeping model initiated by a BSF unit in West Bengal to boost employment opportunities for the locals and create a goodwill with them for strengthening security.

Official sources told PTI that the decision was made during a meeting on “scientific beekeeping and honey mission” that was chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla at his office at North Block here in April.

The model devised and implemented by the 32nd battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) deployed to guard the India-Bangladesh international border in West Bengal’s Nadia district was “lauded” during the meeting and a direction was issued to all the central armed police forces (CAPFs) to adopt it in their respective areas of responsibility, a senior CAPF officer said.

The other border guarding forces, such as the Sashastra Seema Bal (Nepal and Bhutan borders) and the Indo Tibetan Border Police (China LAC), CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other forces like Assam Rifles, the National Security Guard (NSG) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) do not have fences to guard but the model can be utilised by them as per their nature of duties, the officer said.

These forces, about 12 lakh in combined strength, are deployed for a variety of internal security tasks like guarding India’s international borders, anti-Naxal operations, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency duties.

The aim of replicating the BSF West Bengal beekeeping model is to generate employment in remote locations, making friends and earning goodwill of the locals, who act as the “eyes and ears” in these areas from the security point of view, a senior BSF officer said.

Launched in November last year, the BSF unit in Nadia has installed close to 200 beehives on the India-Bangaldesh alloy-made border fence till now, with a multi-pronged aim of stopping border crimes like cattle, gold and narcotics smuggling, fence cutting and engaging the population in productive remuneration-based work.

Commandant Sujeet Kumar, the commanding officer (CO) of this BSF battalion, earlier spoke to PTI and explained that the initiative was launched after it was analysed that trans-border crimes were directly linked to scanty livelihood opportunities in the region leading to allurement of locals into criminal activities.

The ‘beehives on fence’ initiative is aimed to engage the locals in producing honey for sale, planting flowering and fruit-bearing plants for the honeybees and also for the purpose of trade and shallow water pisciculture through the fresh ditches being made in this border area to store water, he had said.

The BSF has engaged the Ayush ministry for procuring herbal and aromatic plants to run this initiative, which has also become part of the Union government’s vibrant village programme (VVP) that aims to engage local border population in productive programmes thereby stopping migration from the frontier areas that have strategic and vital importance vis-a-vis internal security.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been running the “scientific beekeeping and honey mission” for sometime but it has now been desired that the BSF West Bengal model should be adopted to boost this ongoing programme for achieving enhanced results for the locals and the forces concerned, the CAPF officer quoted above said.

More than 1 lakh saplings have been planted with the engagement of BSF personnel, Ayush ministry and hundreds of local people in the border area of Nadia since the ‘beehives on border fence’ model was launched late last year, he said.