Three days before the sixth anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said a zero-tolerance policy on errors was required to avoid such incidents in the future and guarantee India’s coastal security.
The minister inaugurated a Rs 453-crore naval facility that was planned after the Mumbai attacks to plug gaps in maritime security. The Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) can track activity across the Indian Ocean region using data from coastal sensors, radars, cameras and satellite imagery.
Parrikar said the centre would ensure “99.99%” protection against 26/11-type incidents by timely detection.
”How do you pull the needle out of the haystack? Zero tolerance to error is the most important in this project,” he said, pointing out that Pakistani terrorists captured an Indian boat for the Mumbai attacks.
The 58-year-old minister asked the navy to plug radar gaps along the west coast, especially in the Goa -Ratnagiri and Karwar- Mangalore stretch.
Referring to the port town of Bhatkal that falls in this region, the former Goa CM said it had witnessed terror and smuggling activities and needed to be closely monitored.
In a 22-minute presentation in the ‘war room’, Captain Kunal Rajkumar, navy’s principal director (network centric operations), demonstrated how the navy could track the course, size, ownership, registration and destination of ships at the click of a button.
“More than 37,000 vessels operating between the Persian Gulf and Malacca Strait are being tracked right now,” he said. Minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh, Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan and defence secretary RK Mathur were present.
“If a vessel alters course, auto alarms are triggered and it can be tagged as suspicious and investigated,” the captain said.
But fishing boats such as the one hijacked by terrorist Ajmal Kasab still remain outside the purview of such radars. The process of installing Automatic Identification System transponders on these boats, numbering nearly 250,000, is yet to be completed.
Speaking to navy brass, Parrikar used a simple demonstration to explain the policy of zero tolerance to error.
“I often ask people if a glass has fallen from their hands and they say it happens once in a year or two. I ask them if a child has fallen from their hands and the answer is always no,” he said.
The minister also said the footprint of India’s neighbours was increasing in the Indian Ocean region and it was vital that the country strengthens its capabilities “to neutralise the presence of others.