The Coast Guard has given finishing touches to a maritime security plan for India’s east coast, from where terrorists could launch attacks on the mainland.
Sources said the Coast Guard, tasked with securing India’s territorial waters extending to 12 miles off the coastline, has sought the Defence Ministry’s nod to set up a new regional headquarters in Kolkata.
“The defences along the west coast have been tightened after 26/11. The east coast is equally vulnerable. The new hub will improve surveillance off the West Bengal and Orissa coasts,” said a senior official.
Setting up a hub in Kolkata didn’t figure in the original set of coastal security initiatives announced after the Mumbai attacks.
Until now, the Coast Guard’s regional headquarters in Chennai controlled the entire east coast. The hub in Kolkata will form the fifth regional headquarters of the Coast Guard, with the other four located at Chennai, Mumbai, Port Blair and Gandhinagar.
The new headquarters at Gandhinagar to monitor the Gujarat coast came up after 26/11.
The Coast Guard has plans to increase its existing 22 stations to 42 in the next two years. However, it is hamstrung by shortage of manpower and equipment.
The 3,000 new posts sanctioned by the government could take three to five years to fill. It could take three to four years to induct the 55 new ships and 45 aircraft.