Mumbai: NSG hubs not only have to deal with shortage of commandos but also a shortage of space. An initial estimate put the land needed for each hub at a 1000 acres, but in Mumbai they've only got 23 acres.
While the Home Ministry may have moved swiftly to begin setting up regional hubs for basing national security guard commandos, questions are now being raised over whether the implementation is diluting the intended optimum operational efficacy of the crack commando force.
And even though the first of the hubs was inaugurated in Mumbai by Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday, it may be a while before the actual centre becomes operational in the way a NSG training centre is meant to operate.
"23 acres is more than enough. All of us must learn to use land more economically," Chidambaram said when he was asked whether 23 acres is enough to set up a crack NSG regional hub in Mumbai.
In extreme contrast, the NSG headquarters in Manesar near Delhi is a sprawling 1,600 acre complex. Experts insist that it's not a luxury.
"These facilities are much smaller than the facilities required to initially induct the person. There will be a lot of rotation of people. They will keep coming back to Manesar for their proficiency in weapons," says former DG NSG, T R Kakkar.
The NSG follows an intensive training programme which includes:
- CQB or Close Quarter Battle Training
- Proficiency in CQB weapons use
- Unarmed Combat and Jungle Warfare
- Mountain and Urban Warfare
- Helicopter Rappling Training
- Use of Controlled Explosives
- Bomb Disposal & Blast Recovery Training
- Intensive Firing Range Training
The Special Action Group Commandos, who neutralised the terrorists during 26/11, are the most elite of this force and it is only regular intensive skill and endurance training that keeps them fighting fit.
While officers heading the NSG hubs have been authorised to requisition a plane, they haven't been given their own helicopters. Within Mumbai, if the commandos need to move from their Marol hub to south Mumbai, they would take over two hours unless if they had their own chopper parked at their hub facility.
Former NSG DG, A K Mitra says, "They must have their own dedicated aircraft because if they don't, that problem of their not being able to reach on time would always be there.
Soon after 26/11, the then NSG chief J K Dutt had said that regional hubs were required and each would need a 1,000 acres. While the Union Home Ministry has put the plan in action, the state governments inability to release enough land for the hubs could be a serious chink in the NSG armour.
(With inputs from Parikshit Luthra in New Delhi)