New Delhi, Oct 28 (ANI): Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday announced a quantum jump in the number of Indian Coast Guard personnel to make it a potent force to counter terrorism from the sea.
Addressing the 28th Coast Guard Commanders' Conference here, he said the Government has sanctioned nearly 3,000 additional personnel at various levels and this needs to be filled up on a priority basis.
He said the concept of 'security' has changed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks and the spectrum and nature of duties of Indian Coast Guard have undergone a sea-change.
He said the Government is making all out efforts to help Indian Coast Guard become one of the finest Coast Guards in the world in a couple of years.
"The modern day dynamics of security and geopolitics mean that the Coast Guard cannot rest on past laurels and can ill-afford to be complacent. The responsibilities on Coast Guard have been increasing. The terror attacks on Mumbai last year have resulted only in a bigger role for the Indian Coast Guard," he added.
The Minister said additional responsibility of coastal surveillance has been given to the Coast Guard and for the efficient discharge of their responsibilities the Government has approved a vast array of ships, aircraft, equipment with manpower and development of support infrastructure.
He said the Coast Guard is in the process of acquiring 20 Fast Patrol Vehicles (OPVs), 41 Interceptor Boats, 12 Coastal Surveillance Aircraft (Dorniers) and 7 off-shore Patrol Vehicles(OPVs).
He also said work is in progress to put in place a chain of 46 Coastal Radars spanning 9 Coastal Stations across the country. Moreover, 9 new Coast Guard Station have been approved.
"These need to be established early", he added.
Referring to the progress made in the production of indigenous vessels, he said, presently 50 ships are being constructed at various Indian shipyards.
"These projects must be monitored carefully to ensure that these platforms are delivered on time, with requisite quality. The growth of the Coast Guard fleet over the next five years makes it essential that it plans the expansion meticulously, so that trained manpower and shore infrastructure are available to operate the assets at optimum levels in the future," he said.
The Minister said recently a new Regional Headquarters has been set up at Gandhinagar.
"This will facilitate synergy between the Coast Guard, State Government and other Central Government Organisations in a critical area of our coast. Measures are also being taken to enhance the efficacy of Coast Guard surveillance and Search and Rescue operations," he added.
He asked the Coast Guard top brass to explore innovative ways to develop infrastructure support for the Coast Guard fleet in the days to come.
"Since its inception, Coast Guard has maintained its fleet with minimal shore infrastructure. You have been managing the fleet through outsourcing repairs and refit. However, the massive expansion being charted through ship acquisition will significantly develop the shore infrastructure," he later added. (ANI)