Antony focuses on fishermen’s role in intelligence gathering

September 20th, 2012 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday exhorted the Coast Guard to develop fishermen living along the sea borders as the “eyes and ears” for intelligence gathering as he underlined that India’s maritime security infrastructure is quite “robust and capable of handling various security challenges at sea”.

The role of fishing community is vital in strengthening of coastal security mechanism, said Antony here while inaugurating the 31st Coast Guard Commanders’ Conference.

He stressed that the community interaction programme should be given impetus in order to sensitise the fishing community on the prevailing security situation and to develop them to be the “eyes and ears” for intelligence gathering, the defence ministry said here.

Putting the spotlight on upgrading electronic surveillance, an area that has acquired critical importance following the 26/11 attacks when Pakistani terrorists came via sea, Antony said his ministry was seeking to achieve “near-gap-free electronic surveillance” along India’s coasts and will start Phase-II of the project soon after the completion of the first phase.

Commending all the Coast Guard personnel for their commitment, courage and involvement while discharging their duties, he assured that “maritime security infrastructure, as it stands today, is quite robust and capable of handling various security challenges at sea”.

He declared that the service is set to to double its assets and capacity building in the next four-five years.

“A Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (northeast) and five Coast Guard Stations have been established. By the end of the current financial year, another six sanctioned stations are also likely to be established,” said Antony.

Speaking at the conference, Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral M.P. Muralidharan said the Coast Guard was aiming to achieve a force level of 150 surface platforms by 2018.

Six Coast Guard stations at Pipavav, Nizampatnam, Gopalpur, Frazerganj, Mayabunder and Kamorta are slated to be established by March 2013.

“One Dornier aircraft squadron has been established at Porbandar since the last Commanders’ Conference and establishment of two air stations, five air enclaves and four Dornier squadrons has also been prioritized,” he said.

The Coast Guard chief also highlighted the setting up of the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala. “It will help in enhancing the electronic surveillance capability of the force,” he said.

The conference aims at helping the Coast Guard Commanders in analysis of operational capabilities, deployment of forces and preparations for the future challenges.

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