Kochi: The Indian defence establishment has signaled a complete overhaul of its maritime and related coastal security apparatus and has assigned overall responsibility to the Indian Navy. The move comes in the backdrop of the Mumbai terror attacks, which exposed a shocking lack of coordination among security agencies.
The government also appointed the Indian Coast Guard (CG) chief as the head of the newly set up Coastal Command. It has also created a new north-western region for the CG in Gujarat.
Apart from designating naval commanders as Coastal Defence Commanders, the government said it would also provide the Navy with a 1,000-man 'Sagar Prahari Bal' for securing its installations.
Also, on the anvil are an increase in the number of ships, aircraft, helicopters, bases and manpower for both the Navy and the CG.
Speaking on the sidelines of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier keel laying ceremony, defence minister AK Antony said the 26/11 attacks had "shaken" the country and highlighted the need for strengthening the maritime security set up.
"The government has approved certain important measures for strengthening maritime and coastal security against threats from the sea," he told reporters.
The government will also establish a national Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (3CI) network for real-time maritime domain awareness linking the operations rooms of the Navy and the CG, both at the field and apex levels.
The Navy would control all joint operations, conducted along with the CG, to ensure that assets were optimally deployed and synergy was maintained between the two organisations.
`"With these measures, the government is expecting that a new focus will be given for effectively managing threats from the sea and security for the over 7,500-km coastline," Antony said.
The specialised 'Sagar Prahari Bal' force is being established for the protection of naval assets, and bases on both the east and west coasts, as well as the island territories of the country. The Navy would be provided with 80 new Fast Interception Craft for seafront patrolling by the new force.
The setting up of a new north-west region for the CG, with responsibility to secure the Gujarat coast which shares maritime borders with Pakistan, would see the creation of a new post of CG Commander for the region, the defence minister said.
The government has also decided to install Vessel and Air Traffic Management System for all offshore development areas, as has been done in the western region by petroleum ministry.
"Along with this, the government would procure Immediate Support Vessels for offshore security by both the Petroleum Ministry and the Navy. In the interim, patrolling using hired crafts will be done," Antony said.
To strengthen the Coast Guard, the government will also set up nine additional Coast Guard stations to integrate into the 'hub and spoke' concept with coastal police stations along with manpower. "These stations are to be located at Karwar, Ratnagiri, Vadinar, Gopalpur, Minicoy, Androth, Karaikal, Hut Bay and Nizampatnam," the defence minister said.
For the Coast Guard new posts of an additional director general and three deputy DGs have been sanctioned. The force will also see an expansion of its fleet by 20 per cent and a 30 per cent increase in shore support, Antony said.
To improve the intelligence set-up of Coast Guard, adequate manpower resources would also be given.