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Coordination enhanced among maritime agencies: Indian Navy

MUMBAI (PTI): There has been an enhanced coordination among maritime agencies to step up coastal security after the 26/11 terror attacks, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said on Saturday.

"The number of agencies utilised in maritime domain is very large. Earlier, there was no adequate coordination with them. It was virtually non-existent," he said, adding after the sea-borne attacks in the metropolis in November 2008, the coordination has improved.

The Navy chief was talking to reporters here after commissioning Shivalik class stealth frigate 'INS Satpura'.

Asked if he favoured the idea of the Navy having operational control of all maritime agencies to ensure better coastal security, the Admiral said, "I think it would be too huge a task to execute with my own manpower. That is the reason I think that very wisely, the tasking has been given to different agencies who actually deal with the subject."

The responsibilities have been assigned after a great deal of thought, he maintained. "That is the reason why the Navy had been pursuing the proposal for a National Maritime Commission. When that did not happen, we were looking forward to the appointment of a maritime security advisor.

Unfortunately, this also did not happen."

Admiral Verma chief cited these factors as "the reason each one of us was operating in isolation. That could be one of the many factors which led to 26/11."

"Today, fishermen are giving information (on suspicious movements in sea). This information is very accurate in the sense that trawlers and boats always carry GPS with them. When you get such inputs you are able to deploy the forces that Navy and Coast Guard have got."

Technical measures like smart cards for fishermen are progressing well. The coastal belt is well covered by mobile telecom operators and there are toll-free numbers in operation virtually along the entire coast, the Navy chief said.

"With transponders and identification aids to be installed on our fishing craft, there would be an element of identification."

"We have been hearing about the fishermen being the eyes and ears of the (coastal) security network. I have said that this is a very important aspect of the coastal security matrix," Admiral Verma maintained.

The Navy and Coast Guard have put in a tremendous amount of efforts to carry out the coastal security awareness campaign, he said. "The objective being that over a period, you visit each coastal village and every possible landing site and make fishermen aware of the situation that prevails at sea."

On piracy incidents, the Navy chief said the menace was initially contained within 500 to 700 miles off Somalia coast.

"They (pirates) later ventured into areas that came 200 to 300 miles off the Lakshadweep islands."

On China's exploration of a 10,000 sq km polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in an international seabed area in the Indian Ocean region, he said, "Firstly, for whatever reasons, we did not stake claim (to the area), otherwise we could have been owners of that site. There are complex issues involved here because you have to prove that you have the technology to carry out (seabed) mining."

Earlier, addressing the gathering after commissioning INS Satpura, India's latest stealth frigate, the Navy chief said "we have come a step closer towards realisation of our long cherished dream of being self-sufficient in warship production."

"We fully realise and are conscious of our responsibility to the global maritime community to ensure safety of the international shipping lanes that criss-cross our regions of interest. The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring the security of seafarers in our region."

Admiral Verma lauded Mazagon Docks Ltd, where INS Satpura has been built, for "continuing to excel" as the premier defence shipyard of the country.


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