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Shipping lanes in Indian Ocean should remain secure: India

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India said on Tuesday that it would be in China's interest that the shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean remain secure and asserted that the Indian Navy was keeping an eye on its key maritime areas.

In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said the Navy's deployments in the Indian Ocean have been "further structured" under the new mission based deployment (MBD) concept.

He said China had operationalised its overseas base at Djibouti in August last year to provide operational turn around (OTR) facilities for ships on anti-piracy missions.

"China largely depends on the oil imports transiting through the Indian Ocean. It would be in China's interest that shipping lanes and traffic in the Indian Ocean remain secure," he said.

Bhamre said the Indian Navy maintains regular presence and surveillance in the maritime areas of its interest.

The Navy had operationalised a new 'mission-ready' plan for aggressive deployment of warships in critical sea lanes a few months back, seen as a move to check China's growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

"At present, there is no information to suggest that China is exercising freedom of navigation operations in the Indian Ocean Region," said Bhamre.

In November, India had joined hands with the US, Japan and Australia to form a quadrilateral coalition to pursue common interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

To a separate question, Bhamre said the Government was aware of the urgent need for road infrastructure along the international borders in the country.

He said as per the operational requirement of the Army, 530 roads of length 22,803 km are identified for construction/improvement by Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

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