A Brief on India’s Assessment on Coastal Security
India’s Coastal span is of 7516.6 km which includes 5422.6 km of Mainland and 2094 km of Island Territories that belongs to India. The Coastline stretches across the nine States, from Gujarat in the East to the West Bengal in the West. The Island Territories are Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea. Apart from its military operations, the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) performed their duties including humanitarian assistances and disaster relief operations. Both, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are responsible for the security of the Indian Coastline and assisted by the Marine Police, and State agencies.
26/11 Mumbai Attacks: a wakeup call for Coastal Security
On 26th November 2008, 10 terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)—a Pakistan-based terrorist group, came ashore at two locations in Mumbai in inflatable speedboats and carried-out a series of 12 coordinated shootings. This terrorist attack was a first-of-its-kind where terrorists infiltrated via Sea route and executed their terrorist activities. The terrorist attack claimed 166 lives whereas 308 people were reportedly injured. After the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, the Government of India has undertaken several security measures to strengthen the Coastal and Maritime Security along the entire Coastline.
Security Measures for Coastal Security
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has implemented a comprehensive Coastal Security Scheme (CSS) to strengthen the security infrastructure in the Coastal States in India. In February 2017, the Minister of State for Home Affairs (MoSHA) Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha (the Lower House of the Indian Parliament) that under the CSS, the Coastal States and the Union Territories (UT) has operationalized 183 Coastal Police Stations (CPSs).
Fig 1. Tabular details of sanctioned components for the State of Tamil Nadu under CSS
The Indian Navy has set up the Joint Operations Centres (JOCs) as command and control hubs for the Coastal security at Mumbai (Maharashtra), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Kochi (Kerala), and Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar Islands). These JOCs are manned 24×7 jointly by the teams of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard, and the Marine Police. In a press release in November 2014, the Ministry of Defence has stated that the Indian Navy has conducted regular “exercises” in all the Coastal States, and Nationwide, over 100 such exercises have been conducted till date [November 2014] since 2008, which marked the strengthened Coastal Security. The exercises that are being conducted in all Coastal States and Union Territories (UTs) determined the effectiveness of existing security mechanisms and further address the gaps if any.
On 01 August 2017, the Minister of State for Defence (MoSD) Dr Subhash Bhamre informed the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament) that along the Indian Coastline, radars have been established under the project—Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN). In the phase-I, 45 radars have been made operational. The project— CSN, comprises of Chain of Static Sensors (CSS) including radar, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), Day & Night cameras, communication systems. These measures assist in developing the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through interconnecting 51 Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard stations, which has been established to develop a Common Operational Picture. The Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) radars in ports along the Coastline also facilitate surveillance of the port areas. As per the Coast Guard Act 1978, and other relevant Acts, adequate powers has been allotted to the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard which enables them to face various challenges effectively in the matter of Coastal and Marine Security. The Coastal Security would be reviewed with all the stakeholders by the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS)—which is headed by the Cabinet Secretary, against any possible threat in the Sea. The NCSMCS is a National-level forum and apex mechanism for Maritime and Coastal Security, in which all concerned Ministries and government agencies are involved. The last meetings of the NCSMCS and the Steering Committee were held on 24.11.2016 and 07.02.2017, respectively. The Steering Committee is under the Chairmanship of the Secretary (Border Management), and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA). .Regarding the counts of the Indian Coast Guard personnel, the sanctioned strength of Coast Guards has increased from 7,096 in 2008 to 14,500 as on February 2018, informed Minister of State for Defence (MoSD) Dr Subhash Bhamre in the Lok Sabha on 07th March 2018.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs (MoSHA) Kiren Rijiju on 06th March 2018 informed the Lok Sabha that considering, strengthening the Coastal and Marine Security along the Indian Coastline, the Government of India has released the funds of INR 13.59 Crore (up to 27 February 2018).
Fig 2. Tabular details of the release of funds during the last three years and the current financial year.
Under the Second Phase of the Coastal Security Scheme (CSS), the Government of India, based on the consultations of the Coastal States and the Union Territories (UTs), has sanctioned the items as per the requirements. A tabular detail of the sanctioned components are as follows:
Fig 3. Tabular details of items sanctioned under the CSS (Phase-II) with effect from 01 April 2011 to 31 March 2020
In 2016, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) sent a letter to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a request that the Indian Coast Guard must be brought under UMHA, for better coordination with the State Marine and Coastal Police but the MoD plainly rejected the proposal at that time. Replying to the appeal, the MoD had stated that there is a need for better coordination between the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard under its Coastal Security division, as the Coastal Guard performs roles for the country [India] as well by involvement with global Coast Guards and plays an important role in defence ties with countries such as Japan and South Korea.
According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s Annual Report 2016-2017, The National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) Network inter-linked 51 stations of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard and integrating multiple sensors is being effectively exploited towards developing domain awareness and for inter-agency coordination. The Indian Navy has also enhanced the coordination between all maritime stakeholders, including the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Air Force, Central and State Maritime agencies, and National intelligence agencies for Maritime Domain Awareness and Network Centric Operations (MDANCO). In addition, the Indian Navy is pursuing agreements for sharing of white shipping and air traffic information between friendly.
Towards strengthening the Coastal and offshore security, Fast Interceptor Crafts (FICs) and Immediate Support Vessels (ISVs) are being inducted into the IN. In total, 23 ISVs have been commissioned for offshore security and are being deployed regularly for the security of offshore installations. IN has inducted 83 out of 95 FICs into the Sagar Prahari Bal, with the balance being planned to be inducted by 2017. These FIC using indigenously developed Biodiesel on Coastal Security Patrol 28 FICs are being employed optimally for Coastal Security missions.
Considering the Security of the Islands, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has stated in their Annual Report 2017-2018 that the recommendations on the Security of Islands were issued in May 2016, to all stakeholders including Coastal States / UTs. The Cabinet Secretariat (vide their Order dated 01.06.2017) had conveyed approval of the Competent Authority for the formation of Islands Development Agency (IDA) under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Home Minister to oversee the comprehensive development of islands. Two meetings of the IDA were held on 24.07.2017 and 08.11.2017 respectively. Five Islands each in Andaman &Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep have been identified for holistic development in the first phase under PPP mode. The Naval Air Station at Shibpur in North Andaman Island would be co-used as Joint User Airport and Airport at Minicoy Island in Lakshadweep to be developed under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
*Anurag Sharma is a Research Assistant at the Institute for Conflict Management, a think-tank organisation based in Delhi, India. He is also a Research Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism working on the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project in India and South Asia, and a Junior Research Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS). His main research interests are: terrorism and the Internet, Countering Violent Extremism/Online (CVE), Radicalisation and Foreign (Terrorist) Fighters.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team