Snow, Avalanches Damaged LoC Fencing: Parnaik

Snow, Avalanches Damaged LoC Fencing: Parnaik

25 February 2012
Rising Kashmir


Srinagar: Disclosing that heavy snowfall and the avalanches have caused extensive damage to the fencing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, a senior army commander Saturday said army was reviewing the feasibility of abandoning some border posts in wake of the looming threat of fresh snowslides. 'There has been extensive damage to the fence in many areas along the LoC especially along the Shamsabari (mountain) range,' General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik told reporters here. The fence along the LoC was erected by army in 2004 as part of the counter-infiltration measures and has proven vital in the efforts of the army to check infiltration. Parnaik said there was so much snow in the area that it has even buried the fence. “This is a yearly phenomenon but this year the snow has been rather heavy. The fence has got damaged. In fact, there is so much of snow that it has got over the fence,' he said. Avalanches have struck many areas along LoC in North Kashmir following heavy snowfall in the Valley this winter. A massive avalanche hit the headquarters of 109 Infantry Brigade at Dawar area of Gurez sector in Bandipora district on Wednesday night, causing the death of 14 troopers while three other army men were killed on the same day when another avalanche hit an army camp in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district. “We lost 17 of our men during the avalanche tragedies in Dawar and Sonamarg. Our focus is to retrieve two missing troopers in the Dawar area and the searches will continue till we find them,' Parnaik said. He said the Army faces a huge task to retrieve and repair the fence once the snow melts and summer sets in. 'I am sure we will be able to do it in time,' he said. Northern Command chief disclosed that army was reviewing the feasibility of abandoning some posts near the LoC in wake of the looming threat of fresh avalanches. 'There are posts which are vacated in winters, which get cut-off and they do come under avalanches. Those posts have been vacated already. We are reviewing if we need to vacate some more posts but that will be a tactical decision which will be taken by the commanders on the ground,' he said. He denied there was any threat of the vacated posts along the LoC being occupied by anybody else. 'We have a system of appraisals based on the perceptions of the field commanders and the corps commanders, according to which posts are vacated during the winters and re-occupied in the summers. There is no threat of someone coming and occupying those posts when they remain vacated by us,' he said referring to the Kargil episode. Parnaik said Army was conducting air surveillance of snowbound and avalanche-prone areas to ensure that incidents like Dawar and Sonamarg are avoided. “In case of avalanche threat in any area, the army will not only be evacuating its personnel but the civilians as well. In view of the heavy snow this season, advisories have gone to the army formations in all these remote areas to ensure that we evacuate people from those areas which could be dangerous,' he said. Earlier, Lt Gen Parnaik led the senior army officers, other ranks and representatives from civil administration in paying tribute to the soldiers killed in the Gurez avalanche. Wreaths were laid at the coffins of the 13 troopers before being flown to their native places.