To what extent India's coastal security apparatus has strengthened since the Mumbai terror attacks? Do you identify some critical gaps in the same? Examine critically.
India has a long coastline of about 7516 Km and there is three tier security system made of Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Marine Police.
The importance of coastal security became evident after 26/11 attacks which showed the flaws in security. After the 26/11, several organizational, technical and procedural initiatives were announced by the government to strengthen coastal and maritime security along the entire coast. These are:
- Organizational: At the apex level the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by the Cabinet Secretary, coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security.
- Technical: Formation of National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3I) which collates data about all ships, dhows, fishing boats and all other vessels, these inputs are fused and analyzed at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon, which disseminates this compiled Common Operating Picture for Coastal Security
- Procedural: ‘Sagar Kavach’ was introduced as a maritime security exercise and is held every year twice since 2009. Coast guard, Indian Navy, Marine wing of state or city police and other agencies responsible of coastal security are involved in the operation. The exercise is being conducted in all the states with a coastal line. Also Increased patrolling, ID cards for fishermen, Color coding of the fishing boats, to make it difficult for the terror forces to disguise themselves as fishermen.
However, despite various steps, there are some critical security gaps in coastal security evident from frequent security breaches. The reasons are:
- Unsettled maritime disputes, areas bordering Pakistan and Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable.
- Inadequate funding and infrastructure and manpower shortage
- Lack of coordination between agencies involved. Organizations do not share intelligence with each other and work in an isolated manner
- Coastal security bill(to delineating the responsibilities and duties of various agencies involved in coastal security) caught in red tape.
What should be done
- Adequate funding, training, more coordination and intelligence sharing among agencies involved.
- Involvement of fishing community and spreading awareness among them
- Passage of Coastal security bill to specify roles and responsibility
- Security is of prime importance for the well being of the nation.