After the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard failed to intercept the Lashkar-e-Toiba ship in the run-up to the Mumbai attacks,the UPA Government has decided to establish a national command control communication and intelligence network by linking the operation rooms of the two maritime arms for the first time,both at the field and apex levels.
South Block has also decided to go on a buying spree to beef up the existing Coast Guard force levels,with Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta drawing up a Rs 5,985-crore plan spread between 2008 and 2012 to purchase the following:
• Five offshore patrol vessels at the cost of Rs 1,600 crore
• 25 inshore patrol vessels for Rs 1,650 crore
• 10 fast patrol vessels for Rs 650 crore
• 20 interceptor boats for Rs 520 crore
• 12 Dornier surveillance aircraft for Rs 600 crore
• 14 Twin-engine helicopters for Rs 620 crore and
• 16 Light helicopters for Rs 320 crore.
However,at the heart of the Navys proposal to protect the 6,516-km coastlinethat caters to more than 22,000 vesselsfrom a repeat of 26/11 is a Rs 50-crore plan to synergise the Navy and Coast Guard operational centres. The decision to link the ops rooms is very significant and flows out of the failure of the Navy to take action against the Lashkar ship Al Hussaini despite receiving coordinates of the ship from Indian intelligence agencies.
The Mumbai attacks highlighted that there was no coordination between the Coast Guard and the Navy. The Coast Guard did not share information with the Western Naval Command,which in turn was kept in the dark by its own Naval Headquarters.
As part of strengthening the Coast Guard,new stations would be established at Karwar,Ratnagiri,Pipavav,Vadinar,Gopalpur,Kamorta,Veeraval,Dhanu and Murud Janjira. Besides,the government has ordered special measures for creeks,demarcating the Indian boundary with Pakistan in Gujarat,with dredging sanctioned for Jhakau and Veraval channels in order to prevent infiltration.