As we step into the new dawn of 2017, I wish all members of the SSB and their families a very happy and healthy new year. On behalf of the Sashastra Seema Bal, I also extend my best wishes to all visitors to our website.
A new year is a time for stock taking of our achievements and fulfillment of targets, a time for introspection into our shortfalls and failures as also a time of celebration of every little and large success through the year. Looking back on 2016, I can say with a deep sense of satisfaction that SSB has surged ahead on every front. We have emerged stronger with every challenge and learnt with every experience. This has further strengthened our resolve to rededicate ourselves in the service of this great nation.
We salute the supreme sacrifices of our brave martyrs, including Late Constable Ghanshyam Gujjar, who lay down his life fighting militants in Srinagar recently. The bravery of those who died fighting, as also of those who survived despite severe injuriesin the face of adversity, serves as a great source of inspiration for us.
As a Force selflessly serving the nation for the past 54 years, we have multiplied almost three fold from 25 Battalions in 2001 to a sanctioned strength of 67 Battalions in 2016 to further increase to 73 Battalions by the year 2018-2019. Over the past year we have had unprecedented success in seizure of narcotics, contraband, wildlife produce as well as arms and ammunition, to the tune of Rs. 306 crores. As many as 5001 criminals were arrested and handed over to the local police. This includes a sizeable number of left wing extremists and their supporters.
We maintain that our borders with Nepal and Bhutan are open for traffic but completely closed for trafficking. This message has been broadcast loud and clear through our crackdown on all those who indulge in this dastardly crime against humanity. We have been able to work in close conjunction with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders against human trafficking and we have been able to rescue more than 533 victimsthis year.Every member of the Force is passionate in his/her fight against this malaise and we have had many moments of pride this year when personnel on their way home on leave have been so sensitive as to detect and report suspicious behaviour at railway stations, leading to rescues of over 50 children, purely in their individual capacity.I take this opportunity to thank, on behalf of all my Force personnel, all the NGOs who have been working tirelessly with us on the border and giving us information and support in our earnest endeavours.
Our very presence on the borders has contributed towards stemming the denuding of our forest wealth and resources. Rare flora like Yarsa Gambu and fauna such as tokay (gecko), sand boa snakes that have a very high value in the dark market are seized on a regular basis by our vigilant personnel on the border. More than Rs. 46.61 crores worth of wildlife products have been recovered this year.
We have upgraded technologically in our mobility, weapons, protective gear, security and surveillance and are using our new capabilities to achieve optimum efficiency and effectiveness in our area of operation.
Having traditionally been involved in training both male and female border population in the use of arms to be self reliant since 1963, we were also the first Border guarding force to induct women personnel into border guarding duties in 2008. We are striving towards recruiting more and more women so as to attain 15% of the total strength, as a first step towards mainstreaming. Our women personnel are fully deployed shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues whether during border-guarding duties, or as part of the Brass Band or even performing dare devil acts as part of the motorcycle squad, working in every sphere, with dedication and élan. SSB, on its part, is working towards providing a gender sensitive work infrastructure, equipment and environment for all personnel so as to ensure optimum efficiency and output.
We, in the SSB, follow a process of inclusive decision-making where our personnel are party to their own welfare and most initiatives have been taken on the feedback from our personnel. During my visits to operational units, many jawans expressed concern that because they were deployed on the border and most battalions are also located in smaller towns near the border, their families were unable to get the benefit of good health facilities and proper education. They could not afford to keep their families in cities where such facilities were available. We took up the case for establishment of separated family accommodation in 11 new cities, which was duly approved by MHA. These SFAs will be secure and self sufficient with all facilities so as to enable the families of jawans to not be inconvenienced due to their absence. In addition we have empanelled a large number of hospitals so that our personnel have access to better and more widespread medical facilities.In order to further ease the stress of our jawans who are often away from their families, we have issued dependent ID Cards so that their families can directly avail of Central Police Canteen facilities, Air/ Railway concessions, health facilities, etc even in their absence. For the benefit of our retired members, we have set up Pension cells in all units to ensure speedy redressal of pension related grievances.
Our motto, in keeping with our acronym, SSB, is Seva (service), Suraksha (security), Bandhutva (brotherhood). Winning the hearts and minds of the people has always been a way of life for our Force. In order to uphold the friendship of our country with Nepal and Bhutanand reduce antagonism and fear in our friendly neighbours, we created Border Interaction Teams consisting of male and female personnel, in plainclothes, trained in soft skills, local language, identification of criminals and victims, detection, search and seizure procedure, narcotics identification were deployed as the front face of SSB on designated border check posts.
Our presence on the remotest of villages on the border gives us the added responsibility of ensuring that various schemes of the Govt. reach their intended beneficiaries. Under the Swachh Bharat initiative, we adopted 309 predominantly girls schools and built 120 toilets. We facilitated the opening of over 3.5 lakh Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts all along the Indo Nepal and Indo Bhutan Borders. In collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, we conducted 29 income generation programmes where 875 women and girls participated under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme. Under the Border Area Development Programme we have been prioritizing projects for maximum welfare of our border population. One of these was the purchase and deployment of 9 fully equipped ambulances on designated points on the border used in emergencies by 2907 patients on both sides of the border. 63 vocational training programmes and 36 farmers training programmes were conducted this year. We conducted 20 educational tours for students from schools in remote areas on the border, militancy prone areas and left-wing extremism affected areas. The most recent one was exclusively for 143 girl students from very remote tribal areas, many of whom had never left their villages, before then. They were exposed to the rich and varied heritage of our country and at the end of their tour, congregated at New Delhi to witness our Anniversary celebrations. We are grateful to the Hon’ble President of India, Vice President, Home Minister, Ministers of State and other dignitaries for interacting with them and giving them memorable experiences to take home.
We had received the President’s Colours in 2004 and 12 years later, are proud to have hosted the Hon’ble President himself. I would like to make a special mention of how grateful the Force is for his gracious presence at our reception function, as a part of our Anniversary celebrations,for the first time in our history since inception.
SSB is a unique force. We were the first to use civic action as a means to building bridges with the border population. We thrive on the affection and goodwill that we receive from the public we serve and interact with. Our medical and veterinary doctors conduct several camps in remote border areas and now, even in Naxal affected areas, treating patients and livestock, distributing medicines and maintaining the general health of the people in our area of responsibility. 508 medical and 241 veterinary civic action camps were organized in 2016, providing medical care to 53727 patients and 69396 animals.
As the first responders in disaster situations, SSB has not only reached out to help Nepal earthquake and Uttarakhand flood victims but also rendered yeoman service in cloud bursts and land erosion in Darjeeling, floods in J&K and Uttar Pradesh, flash floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh. In 2017 we plan to train and equip Disaster Relief and Rescue units in all our Battalions so as to attain complete self-sufficiency and be of even better service, should such a situation recur. We have already started the process and hope to have these units in place in the next couple of months.
SSB salutes the spirit and dedication of numerous sportspersons all over the country. We have recruited over 400 national and international sportspersons under sports quota this year and look forward to even more laurels not only for our Force but also for our country. I have given instructions to all my units to spot upcoming talent and adopt deserving athletes from among poor and underprivileged families in our area of responsibility. SSB will sponsor their training, nurture them and guide them onto the path to representing India in the future. Do let us know if you know anyone who fits into our plan.
Our toll free number 1903 is operationalized to encourage stakeholders on both sides of the border to freely report misdemeanor, corruption and anti social activities so as to help us in our drive towards zero tolerance towards all kinds of crime. I would request you all to widely disseminate this number. SSB official twitter handle @DGSSB and SashastraSeemaBal Facebook page keeps you informed of all what is new in our world. This is where we reminisce, relate tales of courage, share our success stories and also pay our respects to our departed souls. Please interact with us and help us to serve you better.
2016 has been an excellent year. We strive towards making each year better than the one gone by and are looking forward to becoming more alert and more aware (Sajagevam Sachet) in 2017. I am confident that all officers and personnel of this Force will march into the New Year with complete honesty, integrity, motivation and dedication and set new standards of success.Today we rededicate ourselves to ensuring a safer, more secure and bright future for India.
I, on behalf of the SSB, once again wish you all, fellow citizens of India as well as all our friendly neighbours of Nepal and Bhutan, a very happy and healthy new year.