Bangalore: The Special Forces (SF) commandos in Bangalore are left in the lurch. They don't have a place for parachute refresher training – a must-do-dare-devil-exercise – also known as para-jumps. The Indian Army says they have identified an area at Hoskote Kera on the outskirts of Bangalore and written to Karnataka government (read as several times) seeking their permission to notify the 505 acres of land for their special training. The Army feels that the area provides an ideal ground for safe landing, with the soil being smooth and absorbing the impact.
The exercise (either a jump or drop) is performed from a chopper, AN-32 or IL-76. In a free fall jump, a paratrooper comes down at great speeds with severe g-force with the the chute opening at one particular height. In the second option, the chute opens the moment a paratrooper is dropped.
The 2 Para Regiment (Special Forces) was allotted to Bangalore post 26/11, while Chennai and Kolkota got the National Security Guard (NSG) hub. Bangalore also houses the Indian Army's Parachute Regimental Training Centre. In 2010, the 2 Para SF set up their base in Hebbal, with little details known about their operations.
Documents with Express show that the Army first wrote to the Karnataka government in May 2010, requesting permission for utilising the land at Hokote Kera for four weeks in a year (one week in a quarter). The Army also gave an undertaking in writing that no permanent assets would be built on the land. “In the same letter, the Army wanted the area notified to avoid high-rise buildings and towers coming up in the vicinity, which might endanger the lives of paratroopers,” sources said.
Sources say that the bureaucratic wrangles in the state government shook the Army a bit considering the premier force had to wait a for a long time for an exercise meant to equip its men in the wake of a terrorists' strike. The paratroopers finally were given the nod to performs their jumps between October 27-29 in 2010 with the Bangalore Rural District collector granting permission in a letter dated 20.10.2010.
In 2011, the Army again wrote to the state government for a repeat exercise, but this time (so far) no permission came forth. This forced the paratroopers to be airlifted to Agra so that they didn't miss their schedules. Now, an irked Army is planning to take up the matter with the state government one more time, wanting a permanent solution to their demand.
Let the Army not lose heart: Karnataka Govt
The Karnataka government is in no mood to drag their feet into yet another controversy with a battalion of woes already chasing them. When Express sought the state's version to Army's plea for a safe drop zone (DZ) for its paratroopers in Hoskote Kere, a senior government official wanted the Army not to lose heart. He also felt that had the Army put a well-oiled follow-up mechanism in place, a different story could have unfolded.
“We have never backed out of our responsibilities in supporting our Armed Forces. We keep getting request from the IAF, CRPF, Navy and many more from time to time. We recently allotted land to CRPF in Belgaum. We are ready to help and take decisions above the board when in comes to our defence forces,” the official said.
When brought to the notice that the Army officials were made to run from pillar to post, the official said: “Let them not lose heart and be patient. The said land in Hoskote is a dried tank bed and there are court rulings in notifying them. I am sure that the local people in the area would benefit if an Army unit comes up there. The economy of the region would also improve.”
With none from local Army units wanting to comment, sources in the Army HQ directly dealing with the 2 Para (SF) told Express that the matter has already reached them. “To a paratrooper every jump matters and it is evaluated by instructors. The availability of air support and safe ground areas are two key things. With the unit moving to Bangalore, it was essential that such facility was available to the paratroopers near the base. When the permission was getting delayed in Bangalore, we directed the local units (Bangalore) to do a recce of an area in Thoranagallu (Bellary). But, they found the land not suitable for jump with rough pebbles all over. We don't want our soldiers to bleed during training, but sweat hard,” the official said.
He said para jumps at Hoskote Kere would be a tremendous motivating factor for the local youth and would also project the role of Indian Army in Karnataka. “It would act as deterrence to any evil designs, in addition to reducing the burden on the exchequer in moving the personnel from Bangalore to Agra and back,” the official told Express.