NEW DELHI: Questions hang over the fate of an Indian project to set up 10 Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems (CSRS) in the Maldives after President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency in the archipelago on February 5.
India has set up three CSRS, the last of them in 2015, “but they are not transmitting”, a source in the defence establishment has told The New Indian Express.
The latest schedule envisages the completion of the Maldivian CSRS—meaning seven more radars—by the end of March after three previous deadlines were breached. But the rhetoric that has been exchanged, the travel advisory issued by New Delhi, the cold vibes over the visit of an envoy plus China’s wordy warning against external intervention have made an India-Maldives defence cooperation pact shaky.
If the radars do not function as assessed by the Indian Navy, monitoring traffic near and through the Maldives—especially Chinese mercantile and military movements in the Southern Indian Ocean—would be carried out only through two helicopters stationed in the country.
An Indian Navy Dornier aircraft and a warship make a weekly sortie to the Maldives. The objective of the CSRS and the sorties is to keep an eye on Chinese traffic. The security establishment decided then that the entire Indian coastline as also its littorals should be equipped with CSRS and Automated Identification Systems (AIS) that would give early warning of suspect vessels.
The Maldivian CSRS network was planned as part of a grid of 45 radar stations in the western Indian Ocean that would be integrated with the Indian Coast Guard’s system. It was also designed to be capable of transmitting images to the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence centre.