Safeguarding Indian Coast and Protecting Maritime Interests

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (UNI) In the fourth decade since its inception -- tasked to protect the marine wealth and vast ocean resources, the Indian Coast Guard is gearing up to shoulder newer roles and responsibilites in a fast-changing global scenario.

Completing 31 glorious years of service to the nation tomorrow, this youngest of the four Armed Forces, has grown from strength to strength since its formative years.

The organisation, that started with just two frigates and five patrol boats leased from the Indian Navy, has grown into a competent and capable force comprising 76 ships including small crafts and 45 aircraft.

Mandated with the task of protecting the marine wealth and vast ocean resources in the enormous Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.013 million square kilometres, the Indian Coast Guard has been appointed as the focal point to combat piracy and armed robbery under the Regional Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). The agreement, involving 16 countries of the region, is the first regional agreement of its kind and is a major initiative for cooperation among the member countries.

The Indian Coast Guard also coordinates the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan and efforts were underway to make the ports and oil handling agencies self-reliant in providing response to oil spills of up to 700 tonnes (Tier One Capability).

The Coast Guard is also assisting the coastal state governments in setting up Marine Police Stations and training the personnel under the Coastal Security Scheme. So far, a total of 862 police personnel of the coastal states have been trained and Marine Police Stations established in 41 locations.

Vice Admiral RF Contractor, Coast Guard Director General, told mediapersons on the eve of the Indian Coast Guard's 31st Anniversary that dedicated efforts of the organisation had resulted in saving 4,049 lives at sea to date. Of this, as many as 185 lives were saved in the year gone by -- translating to a life saved every second day.

Since inception, the Coast Guard have apprehended 9,220 foreign fishermen along with 925 fishing vessels for violating the Maritime Zones of India Act. The repatriation of these fishermen back to their countries of origin was a responsibility that also rested with the Coast Guard and a total of 254 personnel were repatriated to the countries of their origin during the past year.

Vigorously pursuing their charter for the preservation of marine life, the Coast Guard have every year conducted 'Ops Olivia' to prevent the poaching of the endangered Oliver Ridley turtles along the Orissa coast. The Coast Guard have till date seized 315 boats along with 500 crew involved in poaching these protected species.

The emerging security situation in the backdrop of global terrorism calls for the Coast Guard to be at the highest state of vigil. To counter this new challenge, the Coast Guard have stepped up their aerial and surface surveillance to safeguard assets against subversive threats from the sea, Adm Contractor said.

UNI DG MS HT1528

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