Lighthouses to become tourist destinations
Union Minister of Shipping G.K. Vasan dedicated to the nation the Automatic Identification System (AIS) Network on Friday in Chennai at an estimated cost of Rs. 132 crore.
It is a set up connecting 74 AIS sensors installed on lighthouses along the entire coastline.
The system will be able to track vessels up to a distance of 50 kilometres from the coast.
It is intended to help different users like DG Shipping, Ports, Navy, and Coast Guard in tracking, surveillance, search and rescue, and management of aids to navigation.
The Network also has a provision to track small fishing vessels with customised transponders which will be helpful in search and rescue and also in extending help in case of any eventuality. There are about two lakh fishing vessels in Indian waters which are required to be equipped with such transponders.
The Ministry of Shipping has approved a pilot project for Directorate General, Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) to provide transponders to 1,000 fishing vessels off the coast of Gujarat and Maharashtra at an estimated cost of Rs. 6 crore. In the next phase, it would be extended to other coastal States including Tamil Nadu.
The AIS Network is one of the vital components of coastal surveillance mechanism planned by the Government of India.
Vasan said that in spite of technological advances in aids to navigation, the guard on functioning of lighthouses have not been lowered and adding more lighthouses in order to provide more support to our fishermen.
Vasan also informed that the proposal for establishing a lighthouse at Vembar in Tuticorin district has been approved for which initial works were being carried out.
The Minister further informed that though lighthouses are located at remote locations, the scenic looks in the environs of the lighthouses are breathtaking. He reminded that last year, he had announced a scheme for promotion of tourism at the lighthouses.
Accordingly, DGLL is now exploring the possibility of turning select lighthouses into tourist destinations for which the project report is ready.
The lighthouse at Marina is going to house a lighthouse museum, he announced. In the first phase, 13 lighthouses across the country including four from Tamil Nadu would be covered under this scheme.
DGLL is in the process of establishing a Navtex Chain to facilitate in broadcasting weather and safety related information which will be of vital importance to mariners especially during natural disturbances.
Secretary (Shipping), Pradeep Kumar Sinha; Chairperson, Inland Waterways Authority of India, Bhupinder Prasad; Capt. Surej, Director General of Lighthouses and Lightships; and others were also present on this occasion.