New Delhi: The Centre has decided to move the base for operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from Hyderabad to Bhilai in Chhattisgarh to monitor Maoists. Bhilai near Raipur falls almost in the middle of Chhattisgarh and is strategically better located to keep track of most Maoist strongholds in the region.
The Begumpet airport near Hyderabad from where the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) maintains and flies UAVs on reconnaissance missions over large tracts of Maoist strongholds is more than 500km away from South Bastar, where Maoists ambushed a Congress convoy on Saturday and killed at least 27. On the other hand, Bhilai, at an aerial distance of 280km from South Bastar, is much closer.
“The UAVs take 2-3 hours to cover 500km. Moreover, their range is 900-1000km, which means that an aerial vehicle flying from Begumpet would hardly touch South Bastar and would then need to fly back,” an official said. “Covering other Maoist strongholds in Jharkhand and deep in Odisha are out of question.”
Having Bhilai as the base will ensure UAVs monitor Maoist movements in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, most of Odisha, and Gadchiroli, Maharashtra.