October 26, 2009 5:01:31 am
After completing Operation Raksha and Operation Khoj the Navy and the Coast Guard are gearing up for another large-scale exercise off the Gujarat coast.
Operation Kavach will be an integrated exercise involving the Navy,Coast Guard,BSF Water Wing,the state marine police and the operators of all the major ports in Gujarat. This is for the first time that the state and Central security agencies will be involved in a Navy or a Coast Guard exercise along the 1,600 km long state coastline.
Operation Kavach is being carried out in the wake of warnings of another 26/11-type terror attack through the sea. It is the third such exercise along the state coastline in about a months time.
The strategic details of Operation Kavach were chalked out at a meeting in Gandhinagar last week. A source in the state Home Ministry said,The operation will begin somewhere around next week and will continue for two days.
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As part of the exercise,all suspected vessels sailing towards Gujarat will be searched.
More than 10 ships and several small crafts for close patrolling of the coast will be deployed. Ariel surveillance will be carried out by Navy and Coast Guard aircraft to thwart any possible terror attack through the sea,sources added. The exercise will be carried out both within and outside the states territorial limit of 12 nautical miles.
The BSF Water Wing,Customs,state marine police,state fisheries department,Gujarat Maritime Broad (GMB) and all major port operators in the state will operate within five nautical miles off the coast,while the Coast Guard will patrol the waters up to 12 nautical miles from the coast. The Navy will cover Indian waters beyond 12 nautical miles.
Operation Raksha was carried out solely by the Navy and the Coast Guard in the last week of September and ended on October 21. The two-day long Operation Khoj was carried out when Operation Raksha was in its last phase,and some state security agencies were roped in.
A source added: Operation Kavach aims to rectify some of the shortcomings in coordination between the Central and the state security agencies that were noticed during Operation Khoj. The exercise also aims to plug the possible gaps in coastal security around the state,particularly near the Gulf of Kutch.
The exercises are being conducted under the Navys authority,while the newly-formed North West regional headquarters of the Coast Guard in Gandhinagar is the coordinating agency between the Central and state security agencies.
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