Indian Coast Guard Set For Major Rehaul As Centre Clears Rs 32k Crore Plan

न्यूज़ वर्ल्ड इंडिया | 0
| August 16 , 2017 , 09:58 IST

The defence ministry's smallest armed force after the Army, Indian Air Force and Navy, the Coast Guard is set for a major rehaul as the government has approved Rs 31,748 crore for a 'definitive five-year action programme'. The role of the Coast Guard has become crucial ever since the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai in 2008, where the Coast Guard played an important role.

According to reports, the action plan to boost the Coast Guard in terms of offshore patrol vessels, boats, helicopters, aircraft and critical operational infrastructure was cleared at a meeting earlier this month.

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The goal is to make the Coast Guard a 175-ship, 110-aircraft force by 2022 in comparison to the current 130 surface units and 58 aircrafts it has now. The plan includes to plug operational gaps in the functioning of the Coast Guard and strengthen its capabilities to guard costal security, island territories, offshore assets and marine environments and also to undertake anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, oil-spill and pollution-control operations.

"The force already has 65 ships and interceptor crafts/boats under construction. Moreover, the acquisition of 30 helicopters for over 5,000 crore is also underway," said a source. Meanwhile, orders have already been placed for 16 indigenous Dhruv choppers and proposals for procurement of 14 twin-engine EC-725 tactical choppers are in final stages of approval.

"The existing 42 stations (20 were sanctioned after 26/11), under the five regional headquarters at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair, will also be fully-developed and made 'smart' with better infrastructure," said the source.

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"Coast Guard has taken a conscious decision to stabilize its geographic spread in order to also focus on development of critical operational infrastructure like jetties for ships and hangers for aircraft," he added.

India has a sprawling 7,516-km coastline, with 1,382 islands and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.01 million sq km, which is expected to further rise to nearly 3 million sq km after delimitation of the Continental Shelf.

Since the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 which revealed the lack of 'critical connectivity' between intelligence agencies and security agencies, the Coast Guard also acts as the 'lead intelligence agency for coastal and sea borders'.