New Delhi, Sep 19 (UNI) Defence Minister AK Antony today underlined the need to strengthen and consolidate the overall capabilities of the Coast Guard in meeting the growing challenges of securing the country's maritime zones.
Addressing the 26th Coast Guard Commanders' Conference here, the Defence Minister said there was an urgent need to keep India's vast maritime zones under round-the-clock surveillance through enhanced surface and air efforts.
''The Indian Coast Guard expansion plan is essential for our economic and national security in this context....'' And the setting up of additional Coast Guard stations at Jakhau, Pudducherry, Beypore and Kakinada were ''the right steps in this direction'', Minister Antony observed.
Referring to stress-related problems in the Armed Forces, the Defence Minister said disproportionate deployment of manpower between those on frontline duties to those required to provide support from ashore needed to be addressed urgently to reduce problems of this nature.
He further assured the Coast Guard Commanders that his Ministry would do its best to address the issue of additional manpower for shore establishments of the Coast Guard on a priority basis.
Earlier, Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral RF Contractor made a detailed presentation on the state and operational preparedness of the Coast Guard in meeting their mandated tasks.
Defence Secretary Vijay Singh also attended the meeting.