During a high-level meeting consisting of the Chiefs of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, Defence minister AK Antony has set a deadline of two months to get security radars along India’s 7,500-km coastline in place. While taking stock of the security apparatus, the Defence Minister Antony also reviewed the timely delivery of 80 Fast Interceptor Craft ordered from a Sri Lankan firm and implementation of a communication network for the eastern coastline.
As per the Defence Ministry release, Defence Minister Antony has directed that the first phase of the coastal radar network on both the west and east coast should be completed in the next two months. A visit by the Defence Minister to these radar locations in the next two months has been finalized. A visit to radar locations on the western coast in Maharashtra and Gujarat will come up first as these are on the verge of completion.
At the meeting which consisted of the top brass of the Defence Ministry, Antony has stated that time-bound actions will ensure a full-proof coastal security system and that all stakeholders in maritime security should work with a unified purpose. Antony will also be meeting representatives of other central government ministries and agencies, who are part of the coastal security mechanism, to review the coastal security scenario.
The Coastal Radar Network is a crucial component of the coastal security mechanism which will ensure monitoring and identification of maritime traffic. The two-phase coastal radar network will be a chain of radars all along the Indian coastline. Last month, the first two of the 46 radars that are to be installed all along the coast under $ 125.4 million project are ready and have been tested along the West Coast.
As for the remaining 44 radars, they will come up soon and will be integrated with each other to cover the entire 7,500-km Indian coastline. The island territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshwadeep will also get such radars as these lie very close to the international sea lanes of communication (SLOCS). These radars will beam information to joint-operation centres at Mumbai, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Port Blair. The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard will man these centres.
The installation of coastal radars has been a top priority following a high-level review carried out by Antony last year after finding out that nothing had moved in the radar installation process initiated by the government following the Mumbai attacks. Following the Mumbai terror attacks, the Navy was made overall in charge of the coastal security. Apart from existing lighthouses on which the radars with electro-optic sensors will be installed, 13 towers are being constructed on the mainland for housing them. Under the Phase-II of the project, 45 additional radars will follow.
Besides the issue of implementing coastal radars, the meeting also reviewed the delivery time schedules of supply of fast interceptor craft, implementation of National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network, and Vessels and Air Traffic Management System on the east coast. In addition, the Defence ministry has already approved the proposals of the navy and the coast guard to increase their fleet strength and manpower progressively to meet the growing security challenges.