M A I N   N E W S

Antony concerned over coastline
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
Defence Minister A.K Antony today said the country’s vast coastline remained vulnerable as forces inimical to it were still keeping an eye to make penetration through these areas in an attempt to destabilise the nation.

Addressing the International Maritime Security Conference organised by Observer Foundation here, the minister said steps would soon be taken to put up a much tougher security apparatus all along the coastal region. Besides the two main forces guarding the coastline, the Navy and the Coast Guard along with the other security agencies would be called upon to play a more vigilant role in the region.

He pointed out that recently there had been attempts to sneak in contraband through coastal lanes specially as the quantum of trade and commerce through sea lanes was registering a phenomenal growth.

While the country's mountainous and land borders had been equipped with sophisticated surveillance system, he said a special surveillance system had to be mooted and mounted in the shortest possible time for the coastal areas.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta agreed with the minister and said security forces stumbling upon some arms in sea-bound containers at the Kochi Port recently proved that sea lane security had to be further tightened.

The Kochi bust could only be the tip of the iceberg Admiral Mehta said, adding such incidents raised fears that any type of cargo could be sneaked in.

With the ratification of the container security initiative, Navy, Coastguard and customs would have to be extra vigilant, Admiral Mehta said.

He said under the new security system installed at various ports and container stations, now almost 96 per cent of the cargo was being screened both in-bound and out-bound.

The Naval Chief also called for setting up of national maritime association to oversee all civil sea farings of the country.

While asserting that the government was giving top priority to build up an effective Navy and Coastguard, the Defence Minister laid emphasis on modernisation and increasing the capacity of the country's shipyards.

Our shipyards are presently taking too much time and resources to build warships. Steps have to be taken to modernise these shipyards to make them more sophisticated. He said steps would also soon be taken to increase the assembly lines and capacity of these shipyards as these were crucial for India to move towards self reliance in warship and submarine building.



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