All the 33,000 sea-going mechanised boats in the state will be equipped with satellite-based distress alert transmitters (DAT) in a phased manner.
The initiative has been taken by the Gujarat Fisheries Central Cooperative Association(GFCCA),an apex cooperative body of the state fisheries department,to prevent capture of Indian fishing boats by Pakistani coastal guards as also tackling other emergencies like fire on board,medical assistance,sinking or any other emergency.
A senior fisheries department official D M Patel,working with the association,said the DAT would come as a great relief to fishermen as hundreds of Gujarati fishermen and their boats were captured by Pakistani coast guards annually on the pretext of Gujarati fishermen entering their territories in the sea.
He said GFCCA has already provided the equipment to 500 fishing boats and demanded another 5,000 equipments.
Speaking to The Indian Express,Patel said the government had at present agreed to supply only 1,000 equipments during the current financial year.
But we have demanded DAT for each of 33,000 boats registered with the Gujarat fisheries department to ensure that they could be rescued in case of any emergency, he said. GFCCA,he said,would complete the task in phases.
Currently,a DAT set costs Rs 17,300 and only 10 per cent of it is to be paid by the user or fishermen. The 75 per cent of the amount is given as subsidy by the Central government and 15 per cent by the state government.
Manufactured by a private company with technical know-how provided by Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC),DAT transmits a short message showing the position of the boat and type of emergency to a central hub location through satellite for rescue operation.
According to Patel,the fishermen or the user just needs to switch on the DAT unit and select a message like fire or boat sinking or any other emergency by pressing the corresponding switch given on the system.
DAT,combining the message with position of the boat obtained through ground positioning system (GPS),relays the message to central hub station in Chennai and the latter in turn would report it to the concerned authorities on shore for immediate action.
DAT operates on a battery having a life of 24 to 48 hours after activation. Patel said DAT would also regularly keep sending messages about the direction in which the boat was being taken in case of its having been captured by sea pirates or foreign agencies,helping the Indian coastal guards to rush to the exact spot in the sea for rescue operation. DAT repeats the message every minute for the first five minutes and then every five minutes till it is switched off manually or until the batter life gets over.
DAT is very much an emergency service for fishermen like 108 service providing medical aid to victims of road accidents or patients requiring emergency medical assistance, said Patel.