CHENNAI: It will take at least three years to fit Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder for tracking small fishing boats in TN coast, so as to prevent them from crossing Indian waters, the Union Home Ministry informed the Madras High Court on Friday.
The matter pertains to a PIL moved by S Gnaneswaran of Purasawalkam, praying for a direction to the Centre and the State governments to provide a chain of automatic identification system stations along the Tamil Nadu coast to prevent fishermen from inadvertantly crossing the maritime border.
Responding to the PIL, the Home Ministry submitted that a committee had been constituted for the purpose of demarcating the maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka and a pilot project was also planned.
Following the submission, the court disposed of the PIL, directing the Ministry to place the final picture before the court with regard to the implementation of the project and the time required for it.
When the PIL came up for compliance before the first bench comprising Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice TS Sivagnanam on Friday, the Home Ministry stated that the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) and National Automatic Identification System (NAIS) networks had been established with the aim to improve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). However, for meaningful efforts, there was also a need to tag the fishing boats and the small coastal vessels with identity and other details. At present, even though one could detect these vessels, there was no way to ascertain their identity.
Installation of NAIS transponders in all types of vessels, including fishing boats more than 20 metres in length, had been ensured. However, for boats less than 20 metres, presently no formal mechanism was in place to track their movements, said the Ministry.
Claiming that tracking and identification of over 1.91 lakh small fishing vessels in Indian waters was the biggest challenge, the Ministry said it had been decided to fit AIS in these vessels.
Stating that a Cabinet note would be finalised shortly and the approval of the competent authority would be obtained, the Ministry said it would, however, take at least three years to implement the project in Tamil Nadu coast.