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Indian Navy to set up base in Lakshadweep

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Navy has started working towards setting up a base in the Lakshadweep Islands which is likely to get operational in the next two years to beef up coastal security.

"As part of our efforts to strengthen coastal security after 26/11, we have decided to set up a base in Lakshadweep Islands and work has already started there," senior Navy officials said here.

Amid heightened threat perception and increased pirate activity in the region, the base would not only help in increasing the presence of the Indian Navy there, it would also act as a detterent against pirates also, they added.

Officials said the base would be expanded in a phased manner and would help in enhancing the reach of the Indian Navy.

After the 26/11 attacks, the Government had taken several measures to enhance coastal security by strengthening capabilities of the Navy and the Coast Guard.

As part of these efforts, Defence Minister A K Antony last month commissioned a Coast Guard district headquarters in Kavaratti and a station in Minicoy, both in the Lakshadweep Islands.

In the recent past, activities of pirates around Lakshadweep have increased and they were also successful in hijacking a Bangladeshi-flagged merchant vessel about 90 nautical miles off Kochi and 80 nautical miles off Minicoy.

Due to this spur in pirate activity, the Navy had deployed its warships along with Coast Guard vessels in the Central Arabian Sea.

India has also been deploying its frigates and destroyers in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 and maintains its presence in the troubled waters since then.

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