Mumbai, June 16:

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that while maritime terror posed a major threat to India, the country’s coastline is now more secure due to a slew of initiatives taken by the government.

Indian Coast Guard

“We are securing the Indian coastline by creating a chain of radars and automatic identification system (AIS) receivers. Consequent upon the implementation of these important initiatives, our coasts are far more secure now,” Rajnath Singh said while chairing the second coastal security review meeting here.

He said the vulnerability of India’s coasts was exposed in 1993 when explosives were smuggled from Raigad and later in 2008 when Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai to carry out their deadly attacks.

However, he assured, after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, many initiatives were taken to beef up coastal security, including security audit of all major and minor ports, to identify the vulnerable points.

Besides a chain of static sensors and AIS along the coast and radars operated by the Indian Coast Guard at 45 locations, another 38 more radars are planned to be installed to ensure a gapless surveillance of the entire 7,516-km coastline, he said.

The minister said while the Indian Navy is overall entrusted with maritime security, including coastal and offshore, the Indian Coast Guard is responsible for coastal security in territorial waters, including areas patrolled by coastal police comprising state marine police.

Addressing the meet, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis suggested the formation of a new ‘Central Marine Police Force’ to protect sea, coast, ports and vital institutions and a high-tech e-surveillance of all landing points and non-major ports.

Singh said the Centre would seriously consider suggestions received from the coastal states and UTs.

He said an in-principle approval had been accorded to set up a National Marine Police Training Institute in Gujarat and State Marine Police Training Centres in police training academies in all states and UTs.

For e-surveillance, the Maharashtra Chief Minister suggested that while the Centre could bear the capital expenditure, the states could foot the operational expenses.

Ge urged that under the universal service obligations, all GSM service providers should be asked to provide services till five-nautical miles from the coast to the sea.

The meeting also discussed expeditious implementation of various coastal security schemes, institutional set-up in states/UTs to review coastal security, constitution of state maritime boards, security of non-major pots, single-point mooring, coastal mapping and security of Indian islands.

Besides, issues like issuance and distribution of biometric identity cards and card readers to fisherfolk, colour coding of boats, monitoring of fish landing points and crossing of Internatinal Maritime Boundary Line by fishermen were discussed.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Lt. Gen. A.K. Singh (retd), the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry Revenue Minister M.O.H.F. Shahjahan, Karnataka Home Minister G. Parmeshwar, Gujarat Home Minister Rajni Patel, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, ISCS Secretary Naina Jayaseelan, Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (Border Management) Susheel Kumar, and Fadnavis.

Besides, top civil and police officials of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal and union territories of Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands attended the meeting. (IANS)