Foreign Policy Watch: India-Sri Lanka

India to set up Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Colombo


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MRCC

Mains level: India-Sri Lanka ties in recent times

India and Sri Lanka have signed an MoU for the Indian public sector Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to set up a state of the art Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Colombo.

What is MRCC?

  • MRCCs are part of an international network under the UN’s International Maritime Organisation.
  • They aim to monitor the sea lanes with the objective of swift response to emergencies, such as vessels in distress, rescue and evacuation of people, and prevention of and containing environmental disasters such as oil spills.
  • Each country is responsible for its own Search and Rescue Region (SRR).
  • The work of MRCCs is co-ordinated by the Navy or Coast Guard in each country.
  • In India, the Coast Guard is the co-ordinating agency. In Sri Lanka, it is the Navy.
  • The MRCC will be established with a grant of $6 million from India.

Benefits offered

  • MRCC enhances co-operation on maritime security between the two countries in a part of the Indian Ocean region where the India-China rivalry has taken centre stage over the last decade.
  • This engagement will augment interoperability and seamless maritime actions like carrying out anti-smuggling operations in the Indian Ocean Region.

Why such a move by India?

  • Sri Lanka’s SRR is a wide swathe of 1,778,062. 24 sq kms of the Indian Ocean, and nearly 200 ships pass through these waters every day.
  • The MRCC agreement appears to be part of India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) initiative in the Indian Ocean.

Issues with MRCC

  • The MRCC has been controversial in Sri Lanka who see every development by India suspicious.
  • Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry issued a clarification on the MRCC, as well as on recent agreements with India for a naval floating dock and Dornier aircraft.
  • The clarification has provided more details about the agreements than have been in the public domain so far.


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