[Yojana Archive] Paradigm of Coastal Security

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Context

  • India has a vast coastline stretched over 7000 kilometres having over 1000 offshore islands that bring enormous resources and opportunities. 
  • The long stretch of shores has been a habitat of varied coastal communities as well as vegetation. 
  • Safeguarding these waters from external threats and protecting India’s maritime interests is of great importance, particularly in the existing geopolitical and security situation.

Trade potential of India’s Coast

  • Around 95% of India’s trade by volume and 68% by value is conducted through these waters, with priority being accorded to port-led development plans in recent years.
  • The safety and unhindered continuity of maritime trade, through a wide network of ships, is also a primary national concern as it directly impacts our economy. 

India’s Coastline Vulnerability

  • Critical assets: The coastal areas host major commercial cities, and significant strategic and vital installations of Defence, Atomic Energy, Petroleum, and private ventures besides 12 major ports.
  • Ports: It has more than 239 non-major ports which increases the coastline’s vulnerability.

Major challenges

  • Geostrategic location of the Indian peninsula poses typical oceanic challenges owing to-
  • Proximity to major international shipping lanes,
  • Hostile neighbourhood-sponsored cross-border terrorism,
  • Transnational maritime crimes like narcotics and weapon trafficking, human trafficking, etc., and
  • Dense fishing traffic 
  • Increased likelihood of maritime incidents
  • The use of sea routes by terrorists during the attacks of 26/11 highlighted the vulnerabilities of India’s coastline and its security.

Stakeholders in oceanic governance

  • Several agencies including the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, Coastal Security Police, Customs, Fisheries, Port Authorities, Intelligence Agencies, and other Central and State Departments look after maritime security and governance.
  • The multi-agency concept mandates cooperation, coordination, and institutionalised domain control of the respective agency to achieve foolproof security by optimum utilisation of limited resources. 
  • As per the concept of a tiered mechanism for surveillance in-depth, the Indian Coast Guard is additionally responsible for coastal security in territorial waters.
  • The Director General of the Indian Coast Guard is designated as Commander, Coastal Command with responsibility for overall coordination between state and central agencies in matters of coastal security.

Various security enhancement moves

  • Coastal Security Exercise namely ‘Sagar Kavach’ is conducted by the Indian Navy along with the Indian Coast Guard and all stakeholders involved in Coastal Security.
  • The exercise involves synergised application of maritime surveillance assets, coordinated air and maritime strikes, air defence, and submarine and landing operations.
  • Joint Coastal Patrol (JCP) by the Indian Coast Guard and Coastal Police has been instituted across all coastal States and Union Territories.
  • The apex level monitoring and review of the implementation of measures for enhancing the effectiveness of the Coastal Security Framework are done by the National Committee on Strengthening of Maritime and Coastal Security.

Conclusion

  • The coastal security construct of the present day has successfully built synergy and coordination, which are very much required in the current security environment.
  • The Indian Coast Guard has grown into a force to be reckoned with and is rightfully called “Sentinels of Sea,” executing the roles of maritime law enforcement, ocean peacekeeping, and many other tasks.
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