The director-general of the Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral A G Thapliyal, on Friday said another sea-based terrorist attack of the size that hit Mumbai in November 2008 could not be ruled out, even as he asserted that coastal security has improved significantly since then.
"A fair amount of work has been done (after Mumbai terror attack). The efforts are ongoing but one cannot rule out the possibility of another terror attack as terrorist try out-of-the-box ways," the Coast Guard chief told newspersons on the eve of the 37th anniversary of the creation of the Coast Guard, which will be celebrated today.
Thapliyal said the government has already spent over Rs600 crore on setting up the coastal security network and has earmarked another Rs650 crore for the programme.
Responding to a question on the threat of another 26/11-type attack, he said terrorists had used a dinghy to reach the Mumbai shores, and the Coast Guard are working to develop a technique to detect boats less than 20 metres in size.
The attack in the heart of Mumbai by 10 Pakistani terrorists left 166 people dead and around 300 injured
"Small boats are a cause for concern and we need to attend to that," Thapliyal said, adding that fisher folk are being involved to keep track of any unidentified small boats.
"These boats, which have engines but can mingle around with fishing boats, they do pose a threat to us. Taking fishermen on board is very important. They tend to fish in groups and are the first ones to spot strangers."
He added that outreach programmes are being conducted to communicate with fishermen, tell them the dos and don'ts, and to "make them realise their responsibilities".
There are more than two lakh fishing boats operating in the country and over 70,000 of them go to sea every day, he pointed out.