The Indian Navy along with the Coast Guard have increased measures to enhance the country’s maritime and coastal security at a time when Chinese activities have apparently increased over the South China Sea.
Since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, inputs from various intelligence agencies indicated the continued likelihood of such attacks.
At present, however, there is no specific input pertaining to an increased threat to the country from sea routes, stated the minister of state (MoS), Defence, Dr Subhash Bhamre recently.
The MoS, Defence, Dr Bhamre further pointed out that Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and State Marine Police, as three-tiered cover, along with the other agencies such as the Port Trusts and Customs are patrolling the maritime zones of India, islands and adjacent seas using ships and aircrafts to detect and check infiltration through the sea routes.
A report presented by Dr Bhamre stated that the increased security measures include capacity augmentation of maritime security agencies for surveillance and patrolling the nation’s maritime zones, enhanced technical surveillance of coastal and offshore areas; establishment of mechanisms for inter-agency coordination, increased regulation of activities in the maritime zones including integration of the fishing and coastal communities.
Adding to this, state-wise Standard Operating procedures (SOPs) for coordination among various agencies on coastal security issues have been formulated. Coastal Security Exercises are being conducted regularly by the Navy and Coast Guard to assess the effectiveness of existing mechanisms and to address gaps.
Commenting on whether the reportedly increased activities of China in the South China Sea is the reason behind the increased naval exercises that are being conducted by the Navy such as the ‘Paschim Lehar’, a senior naval officer said, “ The recent naval exercises are routine ones that are done regularly and not particularly because of China’s activities.
“We always need to be prepared in case of any attempt of invasion. Our deployments are always mission based. “We always have our ships in areas such as the Malacca Strait and other vital regions so that we instantly come to know if any threat enters the Indian Ocean.
“We have sonar detections in most of the major ports.” The report submitted by Dr Bhamre further stated that electronic surveillance mechanism has been augmented by provisioning of an electronic cum radar chain known as Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) which comprises chain of static sensors having radar, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long Range Identification and Trackers (LRIT), day and night cameras, communication systems.
These measures assist in developing Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through interconnecting 51 Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard stations. Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) radars in ports also facilitate surveillance in port areas.