The Indians have had a lot of incentive to secure their maritime borders since the terrorist attack on Mumbai of November 26, 2008, an event they refer to as 26/11 just as we refer to 9/11. The success of this attack was a direct result of a failure of their Navy and Coast Guard. For more information on how the attack developed, including the murder of two Indian Coast Guard boarding officers, go here. Since the attack, India has embarked on a program to triple the size of their Coast Guard, a component of the Ministry of Defense that grew out of the Navy in 1978.
The Hindustan Times reports of an interview with Vice-Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, flag officer commanding in chief of the Western Naval Command, provides and update on their efforts.
“…securing India’s western coast is the Navy’s biggest challenge. The threat perception of terrorists using the sea route, as they did for 26/11, has increased.
“India has a huge coastline, stretching 7,600 km, and we have island territories as well. We, along with the Coast Guard, have fortified patrolling. But there are grey areas where [unauthorised] landings can be carried out because the state governments concerned had not kept them under surveillance till 26/11 occurred.”A detailed plan has been chalked out with the Coast Guard and the Director General of Lighthouses to revive lighthouses and set up 30 radar stations along the western coast.
“Trials of two such radar stations have started at Okha and Kandla in Gujarat.
“The Navy has found it tough to monitor fishing boats. This is a weakness identified [and exploited] by the terrorists. About 30,000 fishing boats are registered in Gujarat, 20,000 in Maharashtra, 20,000 in Karnataka and 2,000 in Goa.
“Radar stations fitted with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) have been planned along the coast.
“AIS devices will also be installed on these vessels. It is a massive problem and it cannot be taken care of only by the Navy and Coast Guard.
“We need fishermen’s cooperation; we want them to be our eyes and ears. They have been very cooperative.”