Akhnoor (Jammu): As part of its "humanistic approach" towards residents of border villages, the Army has launched a drive to clear firing ranges in the Jammu region of unexploded shells.
The drive has been named `Mission Humsafar`.
"As part of its humanistic approach towards people residing in the border villages, Army has launched `Mission Humsafar`, a major clean-up drive for unexploded shells in Kalith Field Firing Ranges in Akhnoor, Kalith and Chinota area of Jammu district," PRO (Defence) Lt Col Manish Mehta said Thursday.
The drive follows Operation Falah (welfare) launched by the Army to clear Kashmir`s Tosa Maidan area of unexploded shells last week.
"During the mission, the Army is carrying out physical search of the complete area and any unexploded artillery shells and mortar blinds will be collected and destroyed," Lt Col Mehta said.
The Army will also educate the locals regarding safety aspects to be borne in mind during firing in the range.
It has employed mine and explosive-detector dogs, remote-controlled explosive detection vehicles (RCVs), metal detectors and engineer personnel, especially trained for such tasks, equipped with gadgetry and other technical devices for this operation, he said.
"In a concerted drive to get rid of any unexploded shells and mortar blinds, Indian Army under Crossed Swords Division will carry out a major combing operation in the ranges over a number of days to make the area totally safe for movement of civilians and their livestock, he added.
"As informed, residents of around 20 odd villages surrounding the firing range welcomed this humanitarian initiative of the Army and were appreciative of the fact that the Army, besides ensuring security of borders and maintaining peaceful environment in the area, has also been constantly upgrading the standard of living of people by undertaking useful projects under Sadbhavana initiative," he said.
Kalith Field Firing Range (KFFR) which is marked into separate zones for artillery, mortar and small arms firing is located close to the Line of Control where many units of the Northern Command carry out regular field firing.
With the establishment of Kalith Field Firing Range Cell at Station HQ Pallanwala since July 2011, the ranges have been safe and incident-free and no civilian causality has been reported to have occurred inside the range area as a result of the blinds, the PRO said.
The locals have been in favour of re-notification of the Kalith Field Firing Ranges and the case is presently with the state government for consideration.