'Need an electronic screen along coast' | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'Need an electronic screen along coast'

It was a group of fishermen from Kerala who pinpointed the location of a suspicious vessel to the Indian Navy. The fishermen became wary when they overheard the crew talking in a foreign language.

mumbai Updated: Aug 21, 2011 01:15 IST
Presley Thomas

It was a group of fishermen from Kerala who pinpointed the location of a suspicious vessel to the Indian Navy. The fishermen became wary when they overheard the crew talking in a foreign language.

They perceived the language used by the crew of the vessel to be Urdu, and reported the vessel's position. The Indian Navy mobilised its assets, boarded the vessel and conducted a search of the vessel before clearing it.

The vigilance displayed by the fishermen is one of the many positive outcomes of campaigns conducted by the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and other agencies which use the maritime domain, to sensitise coastal villages across the country after the November 2008 terror attack.

Before 26/11, co-ordination between various central and state maritime agencies was virtually non-existent, said Admiral Nirmal Verma, the Indian Navy chief. But this has undergone a drastic change ever since the Navy has taken charge of coastal security, and four joint operations centers were formed in Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair.

A national committee on coastal security, chaired by a cabinet secretary, conducts regular review meetings to ensure the proposed schemes are on course. “While a slew of measures have been taken to improve coastal security, some of them have not moved at the desired pace,” said Admiral Verma.

It requires tremendous effort to bring the large number of state agencies, and also the 18 lakh-strong fishing community into the integrated coastal security system, Admiral Verma added. The Navy chief said that the country proposes to have an electronic screen along its coastline. A massive plan has been drawn out to reinforce lighthouses across coastal states with radars, and electro-optical equipment, which will not only spot a vessel but would also provide visuals to the command center.

“We will equip the Gujarat coast with state-of-the-art systems by the year end. We will then implement the same in other states,” said Admiral Verma.