Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said that the role of fishing community is vital in strengthening of coastal security mechanism.
Inaugurating the three-day long, 31st Annual Coast Guard Commanders' Conference here on Thursday, he said that community interaction programme is to be given impetus in order to sensitize the fishing community on the prevailing security situation and to develop them to be the "eyes and ears" for intelligence gathering.

Highlighting the expansion and strengthening of the Coast Guard, Antony said the Coast Guard Development Plan have been approved and adequate funds have been provided.

"The service is on course to double its assets and capacity building in the next four-five years. A Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (North East) and five Coast Guard Stations have been established. By the end of the current financial year, another six sanctioned stations are also likely to be established", said Antony.

He said that the phase-I of the Coastal Surveillance Network project is nearing completion.

He said the system will indeed provide additional measures towards electronic surveillance.

"We aim to achieve near-gap-free electronic surveillance along our coasts and towards this end, Phase-II of the project will be started soon after the completion of the first phase," the minister remarked.

He commended all the Coast Guard personnel for their commitment, courage and involvement while discharging their duties and said: "Maritime security infrastructure, as it stands today, is quite robust and capable of handling various security challenges at sea."

Director General of Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan, in his address highlighted the progress made by the Coast Guard in acquisition cases of various types of ships and aircrafts, development of infrastructure, induction of manpower in the service and enhanced efforts for surveillance of the coast and the sea areas.

He said 1 Pollution Control Vessel, 4 Inshore Patrol Vessels, 2 Air Cushion Vessels, 1 Interceptor Boat and 4 Interceptor Crafts have been inducted into the service.

He said that the Coast Guard aims to achieve a force level of 150 surface platforms by the year 2018.

One Dornier Squadron has been established at Porbandar since the last Commanders' Conference.

Establishing of 2 Air Stations, 5 Air Enclaves and 4 Dornier Squadrons has also been prioritized.

The conference will help the Coast Guard Commanders in analysis of the operational capabilities, deployment of forces and preparations for the future challenges.

It will also provide an opportunity to the Commanders to introspect the standards achieved in the wide spectrum of Coast Guard responsibilities.

(Posted on 20 September 2012, 1675419768 3O222O251O91)