Defence Minister Antony wants high priority for coastal security

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New Delhi, May 20 (ANI): Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday asked the top brass of Navy and the Ministry to take immediate steps to ensure that proposals and assets approved by the government for Coastal Security are put in place at the earliest.

Addressing the Naval Commanders' Conference here today, Antony disclosed that the Government was equipping both Navy and Coast Guard for coastal surveillance and patrol both in terms of assets and manpower," said Antony addressing the Naval Commanders' Conference here today.

"Proposals towards this end have been approved. It is now the responsibility of all of you to ensure that these are put in place at the earliest and used effectively and efficiently for coastal security," he added.

The Defence Minister said the government was fully committed to the modernisation of the Navy and funds will not be allowed to become a constraint in this direction, adding that the onus of utilising allocated funds, optimally and judiciously, lies collectively on both the Navy and Defence Finance together.

"The Ministry is trying its best to suitably fine tune the procurement process from time to time to bring in more transparency, efficiency and accountability. Annual review of the Defence Procurement Procedure is one such step in the direction," said Antony.

Antony further said the maritime frontiers, waterways and offshore resources need to be firmly secure on a permanent basis, asserting that there is a need to create necessary infrastructure for the security of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as also Lakshadweep.

"Our island territories form natural bulwarks that extend our strategic arms to our East and West and also function as the last outposts for the defence of our mainland," said Antony.

"We need to create the necessary infrastructure in Andaman and Nicobar islands. Similarly, Lakshadweep islands, which straddle the oil artery of the world, require our undivided attention," he added.

Referring to the threat posed by piracy, especially off the coast of Somalia, the Defence Minister said it continued to be a major concern as piracy affected the security and economy of the entire region.

He said his discussion with the Sultan and other top functionaries of Oman during the just concluded two-day visit had given us 'new hints' which India must pursue, seriously. Turning to shipbuilding activities, Antony said the recent commissioning of the first indigenous stealth frigate INS Shivalik was a welcome development.

"There are 33 ships and submarines in various stages of construction at our shipyards," claimed Antony, thereby calling for adherence to timelines and quality standards to meet indigenisation requirements.

"Our efforts to modernise the Navy through indigenisation will proceed at the desired pace, only if the shipyards embrace modern ideas and technology. This will enable the shipyards to produce the best quality ships in a shorter time-frame and at competitive costs," said Antony.

"The Navy and the shipyards must interact closely with the other agencies to meet contractual timelines and adhere to the best quality standards," he added. (ANI)

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