The sleeping Indian elephant was rudely roused from its slumber on November 26, 2008, when 10 Pakistani terrorists reached the Indian financial capital Mumbai from Karachi by sea – unnoticed and unchallenged. For four days, terrorists wreaked havoc in a city they have chosen to target time and again.
The incident prompted the Indian security establishment to pull up its socks and try to create a secure coastal network. Defence Minister A.K. Antony took on the onerous task of ensuring that the job is completed quickly, and India is now nearing the completion of phase I of its coastal security plan, with hopes that phase II can be launched as early as next month.
Today, Antony took stock of the measures at a high-level meeting attended by key officials of the Navy, Coast Guard and Defence Ministry. The main objectives of the meeting were to identify the hits and misses in the nation’s quest for a fool proof coastal security plan, plug any gaps and complete projects cleared by the government’s apex body the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2009. Antony apparently wasn’t disappointed by the progress report, having been told that there has been an about 60 percent to 80 percent boost in naval ship deployments and a 100 percent increase in aircraft deployments for coastal security. A total of 165 coastal security operations, 54 exercises and 259 awareness campaigns for the fishing communities along the coast have so far been conducted from January 2009 through June this year, according to a press release.
The CCS has taken numerous important decisions, but perhaps the most critical surveillance measure it has backed is over the establishment of the 3C-I (National Command Control Communication and Intelligence) network, part of the overall National Maritime Domain Awareness Project. Under this network, 51 nodes in the Navy and the Coast Guard are to be linked under a project likely to be completed by 2012. As part of the project, India’s security agencies are now busily working on creating a network of 46 radar stations along the country’s coast, which will include installation of 36 radars on the mainland, six radars in Lakshadweep and Minicoy and four radars on Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The government hopes to have work in full swing next month, and to have finished it within a year.
For his part, Antony also asked the officials to speed up all pending acquisitions of platforms, the upscaling of manpower and the setting up of a mechanism for close-knit coordination on coastal security. He also directed the Navy and Coast Guard to prepare a blueprint for further strengthening coastal security by identifying any gaps in protection.