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Govt orders coastal security restructuring

Admitting that the Mumbai terror attack exposed the lack of coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard...

Written by Manu Pubby | Kochi |
March 1, 2009 12:45:21 am

Admitting that the Mumbai terror attack exposed the lack of coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard,the Government on Saturday unveiled a plan to restructure the coastal security setup of the country. According to the plan,the Navy will be solely responsible for the overall maritime security of the nation.

Defence Minister A K Antony,who announced the plan after a function at the Cochin Shipyard on Saturday,said the decision to revamp the network has been taken ‘against the backdrop of multiple agencies involved in coastal security and the resultant problems of coordination’. Under the new structure,joint operation centres will be set up at four locations,a new ‘Sagar Prahari Bal’ will be raised to protect naval assets,a dedicated setup will be made responsible for the security of Gujarat and extra vessels will be procured to enhance security of offshore assets,Antony said.

The restructuring,which will place the entire assets of the Coast Guard under the control of the Navy,comes after the Standing Committee on Defence rapped the Government for the lack of coordination between the two forces that led to an ‘national catastrophe’.

The Coast Guard will also be strengthened with the setting up of nine additional coastal stations — mostly to protect far-lying islands — and the force will get new vessels to boost its strength by 20 per cent.

A seamless network of coastal radars is also being set up. The Static Coastal Radar Chain,which will cover the entire coast and island territories,will be set up in coordination with the Ministry of Shipping,Road Transport and Highways.

Till now,the Coast Guard was responsible for the security of waters up to 200 nautical miles from the shore — the exclusive economic zone — but it has now been designated for only coastal security.

Under the new structure,the intelligence networks of the Navy and the Coast Guard will also be merged under a new national network that will link the operations control rooms of the two forces. It may be recalled that the Standing Committee on Defence had called for a national spy network — combing the assets of all military and civil intelligence agencies.

The New Structure

• Navy responsible for overall maritime security

• Five Joint Operation Centres at Mumbai,Visakhapatnam,Kochi,Port Blair

• National Command to share intelligence network,operations control room

• Navy to control all joint operations

• Specialised ‘Sagar Prahari Bal’ to protect naval assets,will have 1000 personnel,80 fast interception crafts

• Special Coast Guard HQ in Gujarat to protect coast line

• Nine Coast Guard stations to protect island chain,shoreline

• 20% extra boats for Coast Guard

• Seamless radar coverage for entire coast and island chains

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