Coastal Security

Nearly 10% of mock attacks launched during the Exercise Sea Vigil were successful in breaching the multilayered defences along the coast.

The coastal security enterprise includes:

  • Installation of a three-tier security arrangement (with the Indian Navy (IN), the Coast Guard (ICG) and the marine police, jointly safeguarding India’s maritime zone).
  • Creation of coastal police stations and surveillance infrastructure under a Coastal Security Scheme (CSS), the commissioning of radar stations along the coastline.
  • Installation of Automatic Identification Systems and Joint Operation Centres (JOCs).
  • Each undertaking is aided by intelligence networks to ensure effective monitoring of maritime activity in the near-seas.

Exercise Sea Vigil

  • In January, 2019 the Indian Navy and Coast Guard coordinated the largest coastal defence exercise - Exercise Sea Vigil off the Indian coast.
  • The exercise is a part of the major theatre level tri-service exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years.
  • It was simultaneously undertaken on the eastern and western coasts to check coastal safety measures put into place after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Concerns Related to Coastal Security

  • Around 1 in 10 mock attacks during the exercise breached the multi-tiered defence along the coast.
  • The small boats, which are less that 20 m in length, are yet to get Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) which remain a primary cause of concern. An AIS automatically provides information about a vessel to other ships and to coastal authorities.
  • The ill-equipped maritime police forces of coastal states are also a cause of concern. There is lack of adequate training, motivation and non-availability of boats with state maritime police.
  • Slow pace in upgrading coastal security infrastructure.
  • Other concerns include acute shortage of manpower, shortfall in the patrolling efforts, inadequate training for marine police, jetties under the "Coastal Security Scheme" are yet to be constructed, etc.

Way Forward

  • The potential threat from smaller rogue boats is likely to be addressed through a satellite-guided friend or foe identification system of the Indian Space Research Organisation with a two-way messaging system in all local languages.
  • Enlist sailors who are about to retire, to man the state maritime police forces.
  • Fishermen and coastal communities should be included in the comprehensive coastal security plan as ‘eyes and ears’ of security agencies.
  • Capacity building of the maritime police force both in terms of training as well as resources should be done at par with other maritime security agencies like Navy and Coast Guard.
  • Upgradation of coastal security infrastructure with latest equipments and gadgets.
  • The government is considering doing away with state maritime police forces that are in place in the nine coastal states and four union territories.
  • There is a proposal that the Coast Guard, which comes under the Defence Ministry’s jurisdiction, will now be placed under the Union Home Ministry and designated as the National Maritime Police (NMP).
  • Regular coastal security exercises like Sea Vigil, bi-annual Sagar Kavach, should be conducted to audit the actual security scenario.

Coastal Security Scheme

  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is implementing a comprehensive Coastal Security Scheme (CSS) to strengthen the security infrastructure in the Coastal States in India.
  • Phase-I of the Scheme was implemented during 2005-2011 based on the requirements projected by the coastal States/Union Territories.
  • Phase-II of the Scheme is underway with effect from 01.04.2011 till 31.03.2020 on the basis of vulnerability/gap analysis.
  • Under the Coastal Security Scheme, coastal States/Union Territories have been sanctioned with 204 coastal police stations, 60 jetties, 429 boats, 284 four-wheelers, 554 two-wheelers, 97 check posts, 58 outposts and 30 barracks.