CRPF asks OFB to enhance safety of mine protected vehicles



New Delhi: The CRPF has approached the Ordnance Factory Board to enhance security features of its mine protected vehicles which have infamously earned the tag of "coffin on wheels" as numerous troopers have died inside them in Maoists triggered IED blasts.

The country's lead anti-naxal force has asked the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to enhance the "internal security and accident insulation" ergonomics of these vehicles.

Top CRPF commanders, including those deployed for operations in naxal-affected areas, recently met OFB experts including those from the Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ) to devise new designs to make these vehicles completely safe for its occupants.

The VFJ is the designated unit of the OFB which looks after the transport needs and manufactures armoured vehicles for the armed forces in the country including paramilitary forces.

Sources in the force said the CRPF has suggested enhancing the cushioning and insulation of the metal interiors of the mine protected vehicles so that once the vehicle is hit by a explosion the occupants remain safe inside.

"In a number of cases, it was found that while the vehicle sustained the impact of the blast the resulting tumbling and toppling effect killed the troops as the hard metal interiors hit the personnel inside injuring them seriously," they said.

The force has now asked the VFJ experts and engineers to enhance the interiors while further armouring the body of these vehicles, they said.

Last year, the then CRPF chief K Vijay Kumar had used the tag "coffin on wheels" for these vehicles even as he had said that these vehicles cannot be written off and can be improved to suit the specific needs of these terrains which have been mined extensively with as much as 70kgs of explosives hidden beneath the roads in certain cases.

The CRPF also discussed the designs of similar vehicles used by NATO forces in Afghanistan which have better ergonomics and protect troopers from getting killed or seriously injured.

On October 18, Naxals had carried out a deadly blast in which six CRPF troopers inside a mine protected vehicle were killed in the Chakarbanda forests of Gaya (Bihar).

In a number of instances earlier, the mine protected vehicles have been blasted to smithereens as the explosives planted were in large quantities.

The force has already issued orders to all its formations in the Naxal grid to rationalise the use of these vehicles and prefer patrolling on foot. The instructions also mentioned that only in very rare instances, vehicles and mine protected trucks should be used.

PTI