Antony reviews Coastal Security
The Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently asked government agencies to take up the issue of private armed security guards on-board commercial ships, in International fora such as International Maritime Organisation. Chairing a meeting on Coastal Security here, Antony said the issue has assumed significance in the backdrop of two recent incidents close to Indian Coast. He directed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping to come out with a plan of action and regulations on the issue at the earliest. The effort would lead to better regulation on the issue of floating armouries carrying private armed guards and weapons in our maritime zones.
The meeting was attended among others by the National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi, Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur, senior officers from ministries of Defence, Home, Petroleum, Shipping and Agriculture, Indian Customs, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
Antony noted that during the last few years, the government had taken several steps towards enhancing India’s Coastal Security. Both Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have been strengthened in terms of assets and manpower.
He reviewed the progress of several schemes initiated for enhancing coastal security like mandatory registration of fishing boats, issue of biometric ID cards to fishermen, formation of State Maritime Boards, designation of shipping lanes in ports, survey and monitoring of landing points along the coast. He was apprised of the work carried out in setting up 46 coastal radar stations. In addition, another 38 radar stations are being envisaged as part of phase II of the coastal surveillance network.
While appreciating the efforts of the various central agencies and ministries, Antony urged them to also be in regular touch with their counterparts in state governments to ensure that there is no room for any delay or slackness on matters of coastal security. A 24x7 alert on coastal security issues was stressed as vital. He emphasised that various ministries in Government of India, coastal state governments and coastal communities are key stakeholders in coastal security. A fully seamless and integrated approach by all the stakeholders, he reminded, is imperative for achieving a gap-free coastal security environment in the country.