Review of India’s Coastal Security
Inaugurating the 31st Coast Guard Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi, Defence Minister Shri AK Antony highlighted the progress made in the sphere of coastal security particularly surveillance after implementation of Phase 1of the Coastal Surveillance Network project. “We aim to achieve near-gap-free electronic surveillance along our coasts and towards this end, Phase-II of the project will be started soon after the completion of the first phase”, he said. India has a coast line of over 7500 kms and large number of inhabited islands which are spread across the Western and the Eastern seaboard making it imperative to have a strong coastal security network. Mr Antony claimed that, “maritime security infrastructure, as it stands today, is quite robust and capable of handling various security challenges at sea”.
The Coast Guard is the primary agency for ensuring coastal security under the overall direction of the Indian Navy. The expansion and strengthening of the Coast Guard is being undertaken based on the Coast Guard Development Plan. Shri Antony said at the Conference, “The service is on course to double its assets and capacity building in the next four-five years. A Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (North East) and five Coast Guard Stations have been established. By the end of the current financial year, another six sanctioned stations are also likely to be established”.
The Director General, Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan, in his address highlighted the progress made by the Coast Guard in acquisition cases of various types of ships and aircrafts, development of infrastructure, induction of manpower in the service and enhanced efforts for surveillance of the coast and the sea areas. 01 Pollution Control Vessel, 04 Inshore Patrol Vessels, 02 Air Cushion Vessels, 01 Interceptor Boat and 04 Interceptor Crafts have been inducted into the service. He said that the Coast Guard aims to achieve a force level of 150 surface platforms by the year 2018. One Dornier Squadron has been established at Porbandar since the last Commanders` Conference. Establishing of 02 Air Stations, 05 Air Enclaves and 04 Dornier Squadrons has also been prioritized.
The aim of the conference is said to be to help the Coast Guard Commanders in analysis of the operational capabilities, deployment of forces and preparations for the future challenges. It will also provide an opportunity to the Commanders to introspect the standards achieved in the wide spectrum of Coast Guard responsibilities.
The importance of role of fishing community in strengthening of coastal security mechanism was also highlighted by the Defence Minister. Community interaction programmes have been activated to, “sensitize the fishing community on the prevailing security situation and to develop them to be the “eyes and ears” for intelligence gathering”.
Thus an integrated public private security partnership is being planned to ensure critical gaps in coastal security which were highlighted with the sea borne terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November are covered.