India installing 10 radars across Maldives to monitor surrounding seas | world | Hindustan Times
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India installing 10 radars across Maldives to monitor surrounding seas

India is installing 10 radars across islands in Maldives to help it monitor the surrounding seas. The radars, which help in building a maritime surveillance system for Maldives, would also help keep track of India's strategic interests in the area.

world Updated: Sep 07, 2009 15:20 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

India is installing 10 radars across islands in Maldives to help it monitor the surrounding seas.

The radars, which help in building a maritime surveillance system for Maldives, would also help keep track of India's strategic interests in the area.

"Some (of the radars) have already been set up. India is also training (our) men to operate and run the radars. At least two men would be required (for each radar)," Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed - Maldives' first democratically elected President -- said on Monday.

Terming relations with India as "excellent", Nasheed said his country would want India to be a member of the UN Security Council to fight issues like global warming which he said was emerging as a security problem.

"We should have India at the security council", Nasheed said, adding this will enable New Delhi to be part of the decision making in a group till now confined to the five-member UN group.

On the issue of radars, Nasheed added that the radars were being installed on the request of the Maldivian government. Maldives, made of 1192 islands, stretches for 1200 nautical miles from north to south and the radars would help in keeping a watch on activities around the vast stretches of the Indian Ocean, Nasheed said, playing down India's own strategic interests in the area.

"India is not trying to influence us. We wanted the radars. A lot of biomass poaching (poaching of fish and corals) happens in the area. So does a lot of illegal commercial fishing," Nasheed said in an interaction with foreign journalists on Monday.

Diplomatic sources in Male told HT that cargo worth more than $ 700 million passes through the sea channel near Maldives. Strategically, the islands are important because of their location in the Indian Ocean. Both China and US either have or are strengthening naval presence in the area.

"Diego Garcia (where the US and the UK jointly operate a military base with powerful radars) is in the area and actually nearer than it is perceived to be. China is also building ports in Hambantota (Sri Lanka) and Gwadar (Pakistan)," diplomatic sources said. Indian defence minister AK Anthony recently paid a low-key visit to Maldives to firm up ties with the country.

Nasheed said a private India company has also bid to build an airstrip on a northern Maldives island.