Navy, Coast Guard asked to enhance coastal surveillance


New Delhi : India Thursday set up a high level committee to review coastal security measures at regular intervals, with Defence Minister A.K. Antony asking the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard to optimally deploy their assets to enhance surveillance in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

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“The government has decided to set up a high level committee under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary to review the measures taken for coastal security at regular intervals,” a defence ministry statement said.

“The other members of the committee will include the chief of naval staff, secretaries of all concerned ministries such as defence, home, petroleum and chief secretaries of coastal states,” the statement added.

The decision to set up the committee was taken at a meeting here chaired by Antony. The meeting was attended by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Indian Navy vice chief Vice Admiral R.P. Suthan, Coast Guard director general Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey and senior officials from the departments of fisheries, ports and border management.

The meeting reviewed the progress made in the acquisition of systems and platforms already approved by the government in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack.

An official said Antony emphasised the role of both the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in providing security to vulnerable ports as the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel deployed there may not have the complete wherewithal for ensuring maritime security.

Chopra explained the measures taken so far such as registration of fishing vessels, their notification and the format in which the registration has to be done by the coastal states.

“Issues such as fixing transponders in certain categories of vessels, a network of radars and other sensors along the coast for a foolproof surveillance were discussed. Thirty-eight stations will get foolproof surveillance cover in the first phase of the project by the end of next year. The rest of the stations will be covered in next phase,” the official said.

The government has taken series of measures to strengthen coastal security in the wake of the 26/11 attacks when 10 terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba entered sneaked into Mumbai via the sea route and held the city ransom for over 60 hours.

The measures include setting up of joint operation centres, allocation of additional manpower, joint exercises involving the navy, the Coast Guard and the coastal police and improved network for sharing of information among various agencies.

The defence ministry has also approved dry leasing of twin-engine helicopters and aircraft for the Coast Guard to add teeth to its air surveillance capabilities. In addition, more than 80 fast interceptor craft are being procured by the Indian Navy to supplement the efforts of other agencies including the Coast Guard, the official said.