Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said the Centre has adopted a comprehensive and integrated coastal security scheme, and disclosed that plans are afoot to set up marine training centres in coastal states.
Speaking after commissioning the Indian Coast Guard’s offshore patrol vessel ‘Sarathi’ at Goa Shipyard Ltd’s yard in Vasco, Singh said there has been a threat of maritime terrorism for India and other nations.
“The Indian Coast Guard has a challenging role to play in fighting maritime terrorism,” said Singh, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the commissioning ceremony.
India has a total of 7,516 kilometres of coastline, coastal areas, territorial waters and vital security installations, which call for comprehensive security, Singh said.
Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza, director-general of Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh, chairman and managing director of GSL Rear Admiral (retd) Shekhar Mital and others were also present for the function. To keep a tab on security, the central government has given stress on organising exercises in every six months like Sagar Kavach with participation of all stakeholders in coastal security.
The Union home ministry has prioritised on putting up radar sensors with operating identification systems, he said, adding that about 44 radars have been installed at islands in the mainland and other vulnerable islands, and 40 more radars would be installed.
The Centre is in the process of setting up a national marine police institute and efforts are on to identify the land. Plans are also afoot to set up ‘marine training centres’ in coastal states in an attempt to strengthen the maritime security of the nation, he said.
Speaking on security for fishing communities across the nation, Singh said the central government has made identity cards compulsory for fishermen and has also made mandatory registration of fishing vessels. “The central government has introduced online registration system for fishing vessels and till now nearly about 17,883 fishing vessels have been registered with the concerned agencies,” he said.
Stating that the Centre has identified vulnerable areas, including islands in Lakshadweep, the Union minister said the central government would launch toll free ‘security numbers’.
He stressed on the need of a drive ‘Swachh Sagar Abhiyan’ on the line of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ so as to make seas and rivers free of pollution.
“The Indian Coast Guard should be alerted about pollution and oil spills in order to protect our rivers,” Singh said, adding that the commissioning of the offshore patrol vessel ‘Sarathi’ would enhance the Coast Guard’s operational capability to perform multifarious maritime tasks, as there has been heightened threat of seaborne terrorism.
The OPV ‘Sarathi’ will be commanded by Commandant Atul Joshi and manned by 14 officers and 98 other personnel. The ship will be under the administrative and operational command of the Commander, Coast Guard, region west.
The 105-metre offshore patrol vessel has been designed and built indigenously by the GSL and is the most advanced state-of-the-art vessel with navigation and communication equipment, besides sensors.
The director general of Indian Coast Guard said the Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 has boosted the Make-in-India campaign.
The chairman and managing director of GSL said that in the last nine months the GSL has delivered three OPVs ahead of stipulated time.
The GSL intends to build security boats under the coastal security scheme provided the Union Home Minister gives his consent for the project, Mital said.
The ceremony was also attended by Minister for Science and Technology Alina Saldanha, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar, Chief Secretary R K Srivastava, Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida, Mormugao municipal council chairperson Deepak Naik and others.