In a major relief to thousands of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel deployed in the icy Himalayas along the India-China border at over 9,000 feet, the Union Home Ministry has approved a proposal from the paramilitary force to provide lightweight high-altitude clothing and equipment to all personnel. These will enable them to withstand temperatures up to minus 50 degrees Celsius. The move will benefit 80 per cent of the personnel deployed in the Himalayas.
Earlier, Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME) was given to personnel deployed at 14,000 feet or above, and special clothing was authorised for use at locations above 11,000 feet.
Earlier, personnel deployed between 9,000 feet and 11,000 feet were entitled only to Extreme Cold Clothing and Equipment for withstanding temperatures up to minus 10 degrees Celsius.SCME clothing and equipment are designed to cope with sub-zero temperatures and scarce atmospheric oxygen.
“These items are approved for use by the ITBP in field locations and are already being used. The only (new) thing is authorisation for use of such items at a specific height uniformly,” a senior ITBP official said. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police sent the proposal to the Home Ministry last month and it was approved in principle the same month. The ITBP had also requested that the duration of one-time stay in high-altitude areas be decreased from three months to two.
New Indian Express