NEW DELHI: The challenges to coastal security of India persists even after 12 years of the massive 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack as around 60 percent shipping boats lack an identification system.
Informing of the challenge a source told, “More than 150,000 small fishing boats of the 2.9 lakh such boats still have no identification system.”
While DG Shipping had made it mandatory after 26/11 incident to put an Automatic Identification System (AIS) onboard ships having length more than 20 meters, the cost of the system was found to be prohibitive for the smaller fishermen to install such system.
By the end of year 2019, as reported by this newspaper, an Indian Navy project to equip sub-20 metre fishing boats and dhows with transponders to enable their tracking up to 250 nautical miles away at sea had succeeded. It was expected to provide real-time maritime surveillance to prevent a repeat of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
On 26 November 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists traveled from Karachi, Pakistan, to Mumbai via boat. Along the way, they hijacked a fishing trawler and ingressed from and targeted Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, Nariman House Complex, Leopold Cafe, Taj Hotel and Tower, Oberoi-Trident Hotel, and Cama Hospital and killed 166 people and hundreds of others were injured.
One can fathom the humongous security challenge keeping the long coastline of 7516.6 km, mainland has 5422.6 km and Island Territories have 2094 km long coastline.
In the process to plug the coastal security, chain of 46 Coastal radars was put across the coasts and soon 38 more such radars will be installed to cover the mainland and the island territory. The feed from such radars and other means is linked to Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurugram, Haryana through satellite and helps in identification of friend or foe.
The Navy has so far equipped around 500 boats with transponders in Gujarat, 500 in Tamil Nadu and 50 in Puducherry. The signals were successfully received and transferred upto 250 nautical miles into the sea.
Buoyed by the results, which bolster an Automatic Identification System (AIS), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is to go ahead with its ambitious Rs 336 crore plan of 2017 to equip some 2 lakh sub-20 metre boats with transponders.
Also, a proposal to setup a joint information centre specific to the maritime intelligence is in advance stages of approval. “The proposal is in advance stages which will be manned jointly by the stakeholders of the maritime agencies.” told the source. It will be on the line of the multi agency centre (MAC) which set-up after the Kargil to share the intelligence inputs from all such agencies.
Around 28 agencies are part of the MAC and every organisation that is in any way involved in counter-terrorism is a member of this mechanism. Similarly, states have SMACs.