A National Automatic Identification Network to identify boats and ships on the coast covering the entire 7,500 kilometer coastline of India is on the anvil.
In an exclusive interview with the Hindustan Times Director General Lighthouses and Lightships MM Singh Suman said, “Today, India does not have a National Automatic Identification Network for ships and boats throughout the country though all major ports and some minor ports have Automatic Identification Systems. A proposal by a our department to set up a National Automatic Identification Network at the cost of Rs.61 crore covering the entire Indian coastline except Andaman and Nicobar is under serious consideration of the government involving all the authorities like Director General Shipping, Navy,Coast Guard”
According to the International Maritime Organisation’s International Ship Port Safety code , all the ships above 300 GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage)are to carry an automatic identification system or transponder (tracking device) in their ships, he said.
Once the ship came within the port limits, if the port had an Automatic Identification System it would automatically identify the ship getting its details like the name of the ship, what type of cargo it is carrying, to which destination it is going , nationality of the flag under which it is plying, as well as other details.
“The transponder has to be kept working all the time on the ship so that one ship could pick details of other ships and avoid any collision ,” Suman said.
Unless the information about the ship is available on the AIS network , it would not be allowed to enter into the port the code states ,he added.
“If the AIS transponder is not kept ‘on’ on the ship , we know there are chances of the ship being a rogue ship.”
Suman said that there were also plans afoot to install these transponders on all the boats and smaller vessels plying in the country which are above 50 GRT and below 300 GRT.
“The help of Indian Space Research Organisation has been sought to devise low cost transponders for the fisherfolk as these cost somewhere between Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000 at present,” he added.
The DG Shipping is also planning to have a system of Long Range Information Tracking of our own shipping vehicles throughout the world through satellite, he said.