The Directorate General of Lighthouse and Lightships is planning to have an array of radars in the Gulf of Kutch to control the movement of ships.
"We would act like the Air Traffic Controllers for ships," said Director General MM Singh Suman of DGLL.
He said that this is for the first time in the country that Vessel Traffic Service using radars is being established at a cost of Rs 165 crores to keep control on movement ships in the entire Gulf of Kutch where volume of traffic has increased to nearly 3,000 ships a year.
In the funnel shaped 240 km Gulf where the width from 90 km squeezes into 10 km, Light Houses were not enough for guiding ships when there is an increase in the shipping traffic, he said.
Some two years ago, a Container and small oil tanker had hit each other in foggy conditions and the oil tanker had been torn into two pieces due to zero visibility, he said.
Fortunately there was no oil spill and the tanker had to be towed away, he added.
Being a sensitive area close to the international border -- where 60 per cent of our fuel energy reached -- tracking of vehicles was extremely important from security point of view. The exercise will be carried out with the co ordination of Navy and Coast Guard.
The radars which will dot the entire Gulf of Kutch will be able to pick target within a distance of 50 square metre. Nine radars will be put in the Gulf region and inputs from those -- regarding movement of ships -- will available at Master Control Station which is too built at the Kandla Port.
Mr Suman said Automatic Identification System has been made mandatory for ships upto 300 Gross Registered Tonnage by the International Maritime Organisation. These ships have to carry a transponder which automatically flashes signals to the port regarding its name, destination, cargo and other details, he added.
"Director General Shipping will decide the traffic separation in the Gulf and forward specific routes for particular ships to follow. Our job will be to know the identity, tracking each ship (a moving blip on our radar monitor screens) and guiding it though VHF radio link so that it did not stray away from its given route," Mr Suman said.