New Delhi : Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday set a two-month deadline for the maritime security agencies to get security radars along India s 7,500-km coastline in place. At a meeting with the defence ministry top brass as well as the navy and the coast guard chiefs here to review the coastal security apparatus, 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.
"The defence minister reviewed the progress on various steps taken to enhance the coastal security in the country. He 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 defence ministry release said here. Antony will be visiting some of the radar locations in the next two months, particularly those on the western coast in Maharashtra and Gujarat that are to be inaugurated.
The two-phase coastal radar network, which will be a chain of radars all along the Indian coastline, is an important component of the coastal security mechanism, which will ensure monitoring and identification of maritime traffic. Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Defence Production Secretary Shekhar Agarwal, Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral M.P. Muralidharan were among those present at the meet.
Addressing the officers, Antony emphasised that all stakeholders in maritime security should work with "unified purpose" and ensure that there are no gaps in the coastal security framework. He also directed that time-bound actions be taken to ensure a full-proof coastal security system. "The government is fully committed to modernise navy and coast guard as well as assist state governments to undertake any challenges to our coastal security," he said. He also urged the state governments to be equal partners on the important national security issue.
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 requirements. Antony, at the meeting, desired to meet again on coastal security immediately after the ensuing monsoon session of parliament session with representatives of other central government ministries and agencies, who are part of the coastal security mechanism.
The government already has an high-level committee - National Committee on Strengthening of Maritime and Coastal Security - against threats from the sea under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth. The committee has chief secretaries of coastal states as members to ensure a better coordination in the area of coastal security. "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 were also reviewed in the meeting," the release said.