New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is striving to make India’s coastal security impenetrable using technology and by coordinating with all the states and the other stakeholders, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday.
He also said for the first time, all the islands in the country have been surveyed and many important decisions are being taken on the basis of the reports received in this regard.
Shah said this at a meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which reviewed various aspects of the country’s coastal security.
A lack of surveillance along the coastline had allowed 10 terrorists to sail to Mumbai from Pakistan and carry out the worst ever terrorist attack in India on November 26, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
Since then, the Centre has overhauled the coastal security apparatus by establishing a robust multi-layered surveillance system along the country’s 7,517-km-long coastline.
“Coastal security was discussed at a meeting of the Consultative Committee held today. All the members gave their suggestions to strengthen it further. Under the leadership of PM @narendramodi ji, we are striving to make coastal security impenetrable using technology and by coordinating with all the states and the other stakeholders,” Shah said in a tweet in Hindi.
India has a vast coastline of 7,516 km touching 13 states and Union territories. The country also has 1,197 islands.
Shah said according to the guidelines given by the prime minister, the home ministry has been working over the last few years in the direction of further strengthening coastal security and more can be done with the suggestions of all the stakeholders, according to an official statement.
The ministry is seriously assessing the challenges being faced in coastal security, he added.
Shah said in view of the suggestions given at the meeting, appropriate and adequate steps would be taken, along with the states, to make coastal security impenetrable.
He said several ministries and agencies have a role in coastal security and by establishing mutual coordination among them, it will be further strengthened after a meeting with the stakeholders chaired by the prime minister very soon.
Several important topics were discussed at the meeting and suggestions put forward to strengthen coastal security at par with land border security, the statement said.
The members present at the meeting also suggested the formation of separate coastal police cadre in all the states and the monitoring of islands and coastal areas with the help of technology.
Apart from this, proper budget allocation for an all-round development of the coastal areas and effective operation of the coastal police stations were stressed upon.
For this, the need for proper training of policemen and fishermen from the safety point of view was also discussed.
Using technology to prevent collisions between ships and fishing boats at sea was also discussed. The members stressed on increasing maritime trade and the Blue economy, along with coastal security, the statement said.
India’s coastline runs through Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The country has over a dozen major seaports, including the Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, V O Chidambaranar, Chennai, Kamarajar, Paradip, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata-Haldia ports, besides 227 non-major seaports and single-point moorings.
During the meeting, a detailed presentation was made by the department of border management in the home ministry on the steps taken to further strengthen coastal security, in which the completion of the first and second phases of the Coastal Security Plan and the commencement of the third phase was discussed.
According to official statistics, around 95 per cent of the country’s trading by volume and 70 per cent by value is done through maritime transport.
Security of the coastline is vital for the country as there are nuclear stations, missile-launching centres, defence and oil installations along the coast.
India’s long coastline presents a variety of security concerns that include possible landing of arms and explosives at isolated spots on the coast, infiltration of anti-national elements, use of the sea and the islands for criminal activities and smuggling of consumer and intermediate goods through the sea route, an official said.
The absence of physical barriers on the coast and the presence of vital industrial and defence installations near the coast also enhance their vulnerability to illegal cross-border activities, the official added.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are regularly issued to the coastal states and Union territories for better coordination among the stakeholders.