Indian Navy launches biggest two-day Sea Vigil coastal defence exercise to thwart rerun of 26/11.
- After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, there has been a paradigm shift in the maritime security arrangement that increased emphasis on surveillance, intelligence gathering and information sharing amongst the various stakeholders to ensure an effective response to any emerging situation.
Threats to Coastal Security:
- Maritime Terrorism – Maritime terrorism is defined as ‘…the undertaking of terrorist acts and activities within the maritime environment, using or against vessels or fixed platforms at sea or in port. Attacks on commercial centers, Attacks on Ports and other strategic facilities, Attacks on Ships
- Piracy and Armed Robbery – Piracy by definition takes place on the high seas and, therefore, does not fall under the ambit of coastal security. However, in the case of India, the shallow waters of the Sundarbans have been witnessing ‘acts of violence and detention’ by gangs of criminals that are akin to piracy. The gangs attack fishermen, hijack their boats, hold them hostage for ransom.
- Smuggling and Trafficking – Indian coasts have been susceptible to smuggling. Gold, electronic goods, narcotics, and arms have been smuggled through the sea for a longtime.
- Infiltration, Illegal Migration and the Refugee Influx – India’s land boundaries have always been porous to infiltration by terrorists/militants and large scale illegal migration. These large scale influxes over the decades have resulted in widespread political turmoil in the border states.
- Straying of Fishermen beyond the Maritime Boundary – The frequent straying of fishermen into neighboring country waters has not only jeopardized the safety of the fishermen but has also raised national security concerns. Fishermen who trespass into a neighbor country’s waters are invariably arrested along with their boats
Initiatives to Strengthen Coastal Securityafter Mumbai Attack
The strengthen the coastal security in Indian Ocean India have three-tier security arrangement (with the Indian Navy (IN), the Coast Guard (ICG) and the marine police, jointly safeguarding India’s maritime zone) and various steps has been taken such as:
- National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS): The NCSMCS is a National-level forum and apex mechanism for Maritime and Coastal Security, in which all concerned Ministries and government agencies are involved to coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security.
- Coastal Security Scheme (CSS)- CSS was launched in 2005 across all nine coastal states and four coastal UTs. The main objective of the scheme was to strengthen infrastructure of the marine police force in order to improve patrolling and surveillance of the coastal areas,
- Installation of Automatic Identification Systems and Joint Operation Centers (JOCs) – These JOCs are manned 24×7 jointly by the teams of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard, and the Marine Policeusing commissioning of radar stations along the coastline.
- Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN):Comprises of Chain of Static Sensors (CSS) including radar, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), Day & Night cameras, communication systems.
- Fast Interceptor Crafts (FICs) and Immediate Support Vessels (ISVs):Towards strengthening the Coastal and offshore security, Fast Interceptor Crafts (FICs) and Immediate Support Vessels (ISVs) are being inducted into the Indian Ocean.
- Maritime Domain Awareness:The National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) Network inter-linked 51 stations of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard and integrating multiple sensors towards developing domain awareness and for inter-agency coordination.
- Identification of Fishermen:Issue of ID cards to all fishermen with a single centralized database, registration of over 2 lakh fishing vessels operating off our coastto facilitate vessel identification and tracking are some of the other steps taken
- Sea Vigil Exercise:This is the largest coastal exercise conducted in coordination among various agency such as, the Indian navy and coast guard, state marine police, state police, port authorities, and state fishing departments, as well as fishing communities to test the safeguard measures across the India coastline.
- Multi-level structure – There are approximately 15 agencies involved in various facets of coastal security leads to inadequate utilization of resources, which is one of the major impediments to the implementation of the coastal security initiatives
- Structural Gap: Sufficient attention has not been paid to provide police stations with essential requirements such as proper training to their personnel for sea operations, adequate fuel and funds for the running and maintenance of the boats, buildings for police stations, etc.
- Technology – The latest audit showed only about 1,000 vessels were actually equipped with the tracking facility. This coverage needs to increase considerably to provide an accurate assessment of maritime traffic.
- Research and customization issues – Research and customization are also important to synergies the technological systems used by the various agencies involved in coastal security such as installation of radars, cameras and AIS. This requires the development of India-specific innovative solutions and research by the stakeholders
- Domestic industrial base– There is lack of industrial base of reduce the demand for security related equipment. India needs to start investing heavily in the manufacturing of security equipment to become a self-reliant country by 2025. There is need to revisit the requirements for establishing joint ventures under the FDI policy proposed in 2016, which imposes a cap of 49% for foreign investors.
- Absence of a comprehensive policy formulation mechanism – The GoI had constituted the National Committee for Strengthening Coastal and Maritime Security (NSCMSC), but its mandate is limited to overseeing the implementation of various measures. There is no coordinating body which could formulate national strategies for countering existing and emergent threats.
- Discontent in fishermen communities – Fishermen are considered the ‘eyes and ears’ of the coastal security architecture and, therefore, an integral part of it.
- Growing discontent among them due to the loss of their ‘traditional’ fishing harbors to sensitive and strategic establishments like naval bases, coast guard headquarters, etc. have also led to the generation of tension between the local population and these law enforcements
- Miscellaneous Factors – Difficult terrain, seasonal weather patterns, administrative lapses, etc. all contribute towards introducing gaps in surveillance and the monitoring mechanism. Such as Sundarbans with its numerous creeks and thick mangroves – does not lend itself well to human or electronic surveillance.
- Coastal Regulation Zone regulations – There is an apprehension that CRZ laws are being diluted in favour of tourism and shrimp farming, without taking into consideration the security point of views.
- France – France has National inter-ministerial framework to improve the fight against maritime insecurity which is based on an analysis of short- and medium-term maritime risks and threats.
- Japan – The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) is the naval branch of the Japan Self-Defence Forces tasked with the naval defence of Japan. The JMSDF routinely and continuously engages in surveillance.
- United States – In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the US Customs Service created the Container Security Initiative (CSI). CSI proposes a security regime to ensure all containers that pose potential terrorism risks are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the US
- Surveillance and interagency coordination – India needs better surveillance coverage. Beyond expediting the installation of coastal radar chains and National Automatic Identification System AIS stations and ensuring broad access to information, the authorities must ensure the mandatory fitment of AIS on power-driven vessels with a length more than 10m.
- Stronger involvement of coastal police – Instead of setting up a coastal border security force with no legal powers, the authorities must move to strengthen and better integrate the coastal police into the littoral security architecture.
- National commercial maritime security policy document – It must also promulgate a National Strategy for Commercial Maritime Security for efficient, coordinated, and effective action for protection of the port and shipping infrastructure
- Training Marine Police – MHA to concentrate on training of marine police with recruitment of talented local fishermen and provision of incentives such as sea duty allowance.
- Creation of a joint technical cadre along with logistics infrastructure for maintenance of boats used for patrolling so as to address the issues related to operational availability of these assets.