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Internal Security

Coastal Radar Chain Network

  • 21 Dec 2020
  • 7 min read

Why in News

India’s efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

  • The radar chain—which will link up with similar systems in India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles—will provide a comprehensive live feed of ship movements in the Indian Ocean Region that can be used by friendly navies.

Key Points

  • Coastal Radar Chain Network:
    • The aim is to create a network of information and maritime domain awareness in the strategic Indian Ocean Region.
    • This will also help in expanding India’s assistance for capacity building to Indian Ocean littoral states.
    • Under Phase-I of the coastal radar chain network, 46 coastal radar stations have been set up across the country’s coastline.
    • Under Phase-II of the project, which is currently underway, 38 static radar stations and four mobile radar stations are being set up by the Coast Guard and is in an advanced stage of completion.
      • The Indian Coast Guard is a multi-mission organization, conducting round-the-year real-life operations at sea. It operates under the Ministry of Defence.
    • The primary aim of surveillance radar design is to detect and track small fishing vessels for Coastal surveillance application.
      • However, the radar can also be directly used for VTS (Vessel Traffic management Services) application, harbor surveillance and navigational purposes.
      • It will also help in monitoring any illegal activities in the sea.
    • Ultimately, the data collected would feed into the Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).
  • Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region:
    • The IFC has been established at Gurugram and is collocated with the Information Management and Analysis Centre which is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
    • IFC-IOR has established itself as the hub of maritime security information in the IOR through white shipping information exchange agreements with 21 countries and 20 maritime security centres.
      • White shipping information refers to exchange of relevant advance information on the identity and movement of commercial non-military merchant vehicles.
  • Strategic Indian Ocean Region:
    • The Indian Ocean Region, in view of its strategic location as also being home to a vast majority of the world's population, can be considered as the economic highway that drives global commerce.
    • With over 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of daily global oil consumption passing through the region; IOR is vital to world trade and the economic prosperity of many nations.
    • At any given time, there are close to 12,000 ships in the Indian Ocean Region and 300 fishing vessels that need to be always monitored.
    • The IOR is also a fragile environment, with threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching being prevalent.
    • Further, there has been a steady rise in the deployment of Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region.
      • Increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean Region has been a strategic concern for India.
  • Recent Related Initiatives:
    • The council of ministers of IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) countries met virtually in December 2020. IORA is an inter-governmental organisation, established in 1997. India is a member country.
    • The four-nation Malabar Exercise involving India, Australia, the USA and Japan was concluded and hosted in two phases by the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
    • Earlier this year in March, India joined the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as Observer. The Commission is an important regional institution in Western/African Indian Ocean.

Way Forward

  • The environmental threat to the marine ecosystem due to climate change and unprincipled depredation of marine resources threatens the very sustenance of some of the small island states in the Indian Ocean. India’s presence in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the next two years and the Presidency of the G20 in 2023 will provide it with the opportunity to highlight the issues of these small island states at multilateral forums.
  • Maritime Diplomacy and ‘showing the flag’ forms an important part of regional capacity building. Bilateral and multilateral naval exercises, maritime information-sharing mechanisms, developing common standard operating protocols and showing the flag through the port visits are important foreign policy instruments.
  • Export of military hardware also constitutes an important aspect of economic and military diplomacy and contributes to regional capacity building. Presently India is exporting military hardware to many of its smaller neighbours but the recent transfer of a Kilo-class submarine to Myanmar was a new high and sent a distinct message to the region of the importance India attaches to regional capacity building and maritime security.

Source: TH

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