Radar network to broaden Coast Guard's surveillance

Five years after the 26/11 attacks, India’s Rs 650-crore coastal radar network that will keep an eye on boat traffic through the country’s territorial waters, will near completion next month after nine radars on the Andaman and Lakshadweep islands become operational.

The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the Rs 650 crore phase-II of the coastal radar network, in which 38 more stations would be set up to plug the gaps in surveillance coverage, Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal, Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), said here on Friday.

Site inaccessibility during the monsoon season and environmental issues has delayed the operation of three radars by a few months.

An existing vehicle traffic management system, which is operational in the Gulf of Khambat in Gujarat, will be integrated into the radar network so that the entire coast line can be monitored from the ICG headquarters in Delhi.

“Our surveillance has gone up by 75 per cent since 26/11. But infrastructure creation takes time and we can not rule out possibilities,” cautioned the chief of the coastal force, who along with Indian Navy came under criticism not only in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, but also in 2011, when unmanned ship M V Pavit beached unexpectedly in Mumbai.

While the ICG can now monitor all boats more than 20 metres in length with automated identification systems (AIS) installed in their vessels, it is the smaller boats – similar to the one used by Ajmal Kasab and his crew – that pose a problem. Since they do not have a mast, AIS cannot be set up.

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