With memories of the 26/11 terror attacks, where terrorists entered Mumbai using the sea route, still fresh, the state does not want to take any chances when it comes to coastal security. The government has sanctioned a new 20-acre plot at Marve near Malad for an Indian Coast Guard base to further upgrade security on the coast.
“Coastal security is our prime concern, especially after the terror strikes two years ago. The new coast guard stations would ensure better surveillance of the Maharashtra coast,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
The state has plans to set up two more coast guard stations at Dahanu and Ratnagiri by March 2011. Also, the coast guard is planning an air station at Ratnagiri, which would be the first full-fledged air station of the Coast Guard in Maharashtra. It will play a crucial role in maritime surveillance and search and rescue operations in the sea adjoining the Maharashtra coast. Recently, the Coast Guard had also commissioned a new base station at Murud.
A base station at Veraval in Gujarat has also been proposed to undertake joint Maharashtra-Gujarat coastal surveillance.
Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, who is the director general of the Indian Coast Guard, said, “The base has just been sanctioned. I will have to go back to the drawing board and finalise the plan to bring up the station.”
In terms of manpower as well, the Coast Guard plans to double its force-levels in the next four to five years. “We started off with 7,000 personnel. Now, we stand at 10,000 personnel. Within a couple of years, we plan to take it up to 15,000, and gradually strengthen it to a 20,000-personnel strong force,” added Chopra.
Other important acquisitions that the Coast Guard has planned are to acquire two offshore patrol vessels, 13 inshore patrol vessels and 61 interceptor boats, which are under construction at different Indian shipyards.