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Radar will cover entire India coast

(December 21, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Shaken by the Mumbai terror attacks through the sea-route, the Union defence and home ministries on Saturday announced a slew of measures to secure the entire 7,500-km-long Indian coastline, including one to put the entire coastline under radar surveillance.

The ministry of defence (MoD) is working on "radar coverage" of the entire coastline and a scheme for this is being worked out along with the Union shipping ministry, the MoD stated. Defence minister A.K. Antony also ordered the Coast Guard to coordinate with various states for "electronic identification of all vessels entering Indian waters".

The MoD also directed the Coast Guard to lease ships from the global market "in the quickest possible time" and also initiate the acquisition process for interceptor boats and other "cutting-edge equipment" to plug the loopholes in the "vulnerable (coastal) areas". It was also decided to establish nine additional Coast Guard stations and the proposal will soon be placed before the Cabinet. The MoD has also directed deployment of additional ships and aircraft to ensure more surveillance of the coastal waters. The "vulnerable areas" in this regard were also discussed.

For better coordination among various agencies involved in securing the country’s coastline, another meeting at the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) decided to prepare detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for security forces involved in patrolling the water area relating to ports. The Centre has also decided to allocate two interceptor boats to each port. There are 12 major and 180 minor ports in the country. The need for the CISF to have commandos inside the ports also figured in the meeting. The SOPs for the working of the CISF commandos will be prepared to ensure smooth interaction with other security agencies.

The MHA has sought details from states which have "minor ports" and handle bulk transport. Since ports come under the purview of state governments, the Centre has sought detailed reports about such ports. The Centre has also decided to get a detailed security audit of one or two ports by various security agencies as an experimental measure that will focus on issues like

access control, surveillance systems and identity cards for employees. The MHA has also decided to set up a committee to go into the difficulties being faced on account of fishing harbours located within port limits. In addition, it will get a detailed examination done of the irregular and unregulated movement of boats, including fishing boats.

Meanwhile, the MoD has also directed the Coast Guard to focus on coordinating intelligence inputs with the Navy. The Coast Guard performs the task of "enforcement of national jurisdiction" in India’s maritime zones and is also the "lead intelligence agency for the coastal border". Currently, the Coast Guard has 92 ships and craft that include five advanced offshore patrol vessels, seven offshore patrol vessels, 15 fast patrol vessels, 13 inshore patrol vessels, 13 interceptor boats, six hovercraft, 16 interceptor craft, two seaward defence boats and 15 workboats. The Coast Guard also has 24 Dornier (maritime reconnaissance) aircraft, 17 Chetak helicopters and four advanced light helicopters and is already looking to expand its fleet.

Saturday’s MoD meeting was also attended by defence secretary Vijay Singh, Coast Guard director-general Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, and MoD director-general (acquisition) S.K. Sharma. The MHA meeting, presided over by Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta, was attended by the home ministry’s secretary (border management) Jarnail Singh, secretary (shipping) A.P.V.N. Sarma and CISF director-general N.R. Das.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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