Chennai : India beefed up its coastal security Friday by launching the National Automatic Identification System (NIAS) network to track vessels up to a distance of 50 km from the coast.
Launching the Rs.132-crore project of the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan said: "The system will be able to track vessels up to a distance of 50 km from the coast. It is intended to help different users like directorate general shipping, ports, navy and coast guard in tracking, surveillance, search and rescue and management of aids to navigation."
He said the NAIS had 74 sensors installed on lighthouses along the entire coastline. Vasan said the network had the provision to track small fishing vessels with customised transponders which would be helpful in search and rescue and in extending help in case of any eventuality.
Referring to the pilot project of DGLL to provide transponders to 1,000 fishing vessels off the coast of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Vasan said the scheme would be extended to other coastal states including Tamil Nadu. On promoting lighthouse tourism, Vasan said the government had prepared a project. He said 13 lighthouses had been chosen in the first phase across the country, including four from Tamil Nadu, for the tourism scheme.
He said a lighthouse museum would be set up at the lighthouse on the Marina beach here. Vasan also handed over the approval to build a lighthouse in Vembar in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu to DGLL. He said DGLL was in the process of establishing a system to facilitate broadcasting weather and safety related information for mariners.
Referring to the Long Range Identification Traffic (LRIT) system developed by the Directorate General of Shipping, Pradeep Kumar Sinha, secretary, Shipping Ministry said the NAIS and LRIT should be integrated.