With coastal security in mind, government mulls moving Indian Coast Guard under MHA

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Published: April 19, 2019 8:02:51 PM

Discussions are also underway for creating additional infrastructure across all states which will provide additional training, manpower, equipment and infrastructure to coastal police and to ensure that all data of fishermen boats are available with Department of Fisheries and ICG and coastal police online through CCTNS.

coastal security, government, Indian Coast Guard, MHA, defence newsWith coastal security in mind, government mulls moving Indian Coast Guard under MHA

Buoyed by the success of the first ever Coastal Defence Exercise (Ex Sea Vigil), the government is mulling on handing overall responsibility of the coastal security to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

Sources have confirmed that there are discussions going on for shifting the ICG from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in an effort to strengthen coastal security.

Discussions are also underway for creating additional infrastructure across all states which will provide additional training, manpower, equipment and infrastructure to coastal police and to ensure that all data of fishermen boats are available with Department of Fisheries and ICG and coastal police online through CCTNS.

Earlier this year in January, the first ever national level Coastal Defence Exercise SEA VIGIL was conducted by Indian Navy, which witnessed the simultaneous activation of the coastal security apparatus across the country involving maritime stakeholders at the Centre and all the 13 Coastal States and Union Territories.

As has been reported earlier, Phase I of the exercise had started with the deployment of personnel and sea-going units of all stakeholders. And it had included 150 ships and 35 aircraft of the Navy and Coast Guard and sea-going assets of other stakeholders like the state police, CISF, customs, etc., which touched 500-600 craft at sea.

Driven by MHA, Phase –II of the exercise had participation from Navy, Coast Guard, Police and CISF and the NSG.

Senior officers who are privy to the discussions have stated that the government is keen on strengthening the coastal security hence is attempting to ensure that those patrolling both land and water are properly equipped.

Citing a lack of enough manpower to ensure physically that there are no intrusions through water lanes, authorities are looking at deeper coordination and liaison between different agencies and the state police during a crisis situation.

Since ICG is aware of operational challenges and threats in the coastal areas, its personnel are not only well equipped but are also well-trained for sea operations and is an ideal force for handling overall responsibility of coastal security. Therefore the MHA is keen on getting the ICG under its wings as issues of coordination with other central agencies would be resolved easily.

It may be recalled at the time of the formation, ICG was proposed to be under MHA but had to be sent to the MoD.

Earlier this week, the debrief of Ex Sea Vigil chaired by Vice Admiral MS Pawar, Deputy Chief of the Naval highlighted the major achievements during the exercise and the progress made over last decade in the area of Coastal Defence and Security.

While reiterating the need for flexibility and agility to deal with security challenges, the deputy chief underlined the strong inter-agency coordination and interoperability achieved during the exercise. And also announced that the minutes of the discussions would be presented at the next meeting of the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS).

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