Beehives and Medicinal Plants: BSF's Innovative Border Security Initiative

Bee boxes and medicinal plants: A natural deterrent against smuggling on India-Bangla border
Bee boxes and medicinal plants, India-Bangla border
Bee boxes and medicinal plants, India-Bangla border

Kolkata/New Delhi | To prevent smuggling of cattle and narcotics, the BSF will now have a second line of deterrence -- a thick hedge of more than 60,000 medicinal plants and 40 bee boxes -- along a three-kilometre fenced stretch of the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal's Nadia district.

"Beehives on the fence" was launched in November last year as part of the central government's "Vibrant Village Programme", and according to officials, it not only aims at preventing cross-border crimes but also generating employment for locals through apiculture and horticulture.

The flowering plants will also create an ecosystem for the bees to pollinate, a senior official of the AYUSH department said.

This stretch along the border has been name "Arogya Path" (healthy street) and QR codes have been affixed which when scanned will give details about the plants, the official said, requesting anonymity. He added that the "path" doubles up as a nursery.

Villagers of Kadirpur in Nadia have been engaged in different works such as planting and watering the fruit-bearing and aromatic medicinal plants, and digging pits to extend the hedge, as part of the first phase of the project.

An official of the Border Security Force (BSF) said 40 bee boxes have been fixed on poles of the metal fence over the last two months with the help of the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB).

The board, which comes under the Union AYUSH Ministry, has committed its resources of experts, manpower and plants for the "unique initiative", the official said and added that more bee boxes have reached the area and these are being installed.

The bees in the hives, the BSF feels, will act as a deterrent to cross-border criminals and smugglers who come closer or dare to cut the fence and breach it for smuggling cattle, narcotics, gold, silver and other items.

Experts and officials from various central and state government departments are engaged in the project.

Tulsi, Ekangi, Satmuli, Ashwagandha and Aloe Vera are among the plants that will make the hedge. More saplings, around 60,000, are in the process of being sent to the area by the NMPB and the AYUSH ministry, the AYUSH department official said.

On creation of employment, the official said through this project, locals can earn through apiculture and horticulture.

Commanding Officer (CO) of the BSF's 32nd Battalion, Sujeet Kumar, who devised the initiative, said the enthusiasm of locals and authorities towards the project is unparalleled.

"We thought of adding this new dimension of work under the Vibrant Village Programme, which was envisaged by the prime minister, and the BSF wishes to improve the living standards of the people residing in the border area through beekeeping and cultivation of medicinal plants, and using bees for border security work," he said.

"We are getting good help from the AYUSH ministry and from a local expert in beekeeping works. We are hopeful and confident that our experiment will be successful and effective," the BSF commandant told PTI.

Personnel of his battalion who patrol the border are providing support to volunteers by providing water tankers and field equipment, and even additional human resource.

The NMPB's eastern regional-cum-facilitation centre recently informed the BSF that it "appreciates their idea of promotion of livelihood opportunity" and will extend all support for cultivation of medicinal plants in this frontier area.

The border force, which is tasked to guard the international front, has committed to villagers that the honey they extract from these beehives will be sold through an established setup and shops of the BSF wives welfare association.

The India-Bangladesh front is about 4,096 km long, with West Bengal accounting for about 2,217 kilometres.

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