Indian Ocean: Security Concerns for India and Efforts for protecting the region - Seeker's Thoughts

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Indian Ocean: Security Concerns for India and Efforts for protecting the region

Indian Ocean region remains a very important region which is surrounded by the countries from South Africa from west to the Australia in the east. India has been facing security problems through coastal areas in Indian Ocean Region.  
Issues faced by India:
There has been a lot of securities concern like smuggling of goods, gold, drugs, arms and ammunition from coastal areas. The blasts in 1993 and 2008 in Mumbai shows the vulnerability of the country's coastal areas. 
India has 7516.6 km of coastlines. There nine states which touch the Ocean are- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, west Bengal , Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands. 
There are following issues faced by India at coastal areas:
1. Cross Border Terrorism- India faces cross border terrorism issues its vast coastal lines. Over the years deployments of security forces and improving coastal area services brought some sort of relief. 
However the security of sea routes remain poorly guarded. 
2. Smuggled Items- From some countries like Dubai, India gets influx of smuggled and trafficked items. 
3. Lack of security data base- Dhows are registered under Mercantile Marine Department, and these dhows have been actively involved in bringing smuggled luxurious items , heroin, hanish etc. 
4. Illegal Migrants- Eastern Indian Seaboard faced increase in illegal migrants from Bangladesh. 
5- A Threat to strategic installation - At Indian coastal line there are various special economic zone, naval bases, nuclear power plants, satellite and missile launching ranges and ports which re vital (important) for security, development and prosperity of the country but they are also high value target for the terrorists. 

Preventive Measures taken by Indian Government
 The Government of India is implementing the Coastal Security Scheme in phases with the objective of strengthening infrastructure of Marine Police Force for patrolling and surveillance of coastal areas, particularly shallow areas close to the coast. 
The entire coastal areas of the country have been adequately safeguarded against
1. At Governance Level
In order to avoid any lapse in the coastal security of the country, the Government reviews and monitors the entire coastal security apparatus through : (1) National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) against threats from the Sea is headed by Cabinet Secretary and all stake-holder Ministries and the State Governments are members of this committee which meets once in six months and 
(2) Steering Committee in Ministry of Home Affairs headed by Secretary (Border Management) consists of all stakeholders, which meets periodically to review the implementation of decisions of NCSMCS and progress of Coastal Security Scheme.

 Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration has submitted a comprehensive security
plan of Andaman & Nicobar Islands after consulting Coast Guard, Navy and other stakeholders, for implementation over a period of 8 years, in three phases.

3. Other Initiative taken to improve coastal Security
--Joint Coastal Security Exercises- Sagar Kavach- Coordinated by Indian Coastguards alongs with coastal states and Union Territories. 
--As per Indian Ports Act, 1908, the responsibility of developing a major port is of the
Central Government and that of the minor ports, is of the concerned State Government. 
--The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is providing security in all the major Ports. As non major ports fall under the jurisdiction of State Governments, the Security of non Major Ports is the responsibility of the respective State Governments.
--The recruitment process for 1,000 personnel under Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) has
already been undertaken. 
--National Population Register (NPR) ID Cards There are two types of cards, viz. National Population Register (NPR) ID Cards issued by the Registrar General of India (RGI) for Coastal village population and Fishermen Cards issued to the Fishermen by the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries, Government of India
--Registration of Vessels/Boats It was decided in June 2009, to have a uniform registration of fishing vessels of less than 20 meter overall lengths. The uniform registration is done under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 by the States/UTs. All the sailing vessels above 20 meters length are mandatorily required to be fitted with Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment. If the same is not fitted, then the registration of such vessels on an annual basis will not be done
--Tracking System (Transponders) for Boats The Director General, Shipping has issued two circulars to ensure installation of Automatic Identification System Type B transponders in all types of vessels including fishing vessels of above 20 metres in length.
For the boats less than 20 meters, appropriate technology for installation of tracking
system has been identified on the basis of the pilot study in the Ministries National Population Register/Fishermen ID Cards Registration of Vessels/Boats Tracking System (transponders) for Boats of Defence/Shipping. To role out the pilot project for the entire coast, the matter is under active consideration of the Government

Constitution of State Maritime Boards (SMBs) As per the Indian Ports Act, 1908, the Ministry of Shipping is responsible for the  security of Major Ports, where as the State Governments/State Maritime Boards are responsible for the security of Non-Major Ports. To manage, control and administer the minor ports, it is necessary that the coastal States/UTs to have State Maritime Boards (SMBs).

i). The States of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already constituted SMBs. While State of West Bengal and UTs of Puducherry, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep have constituted Maritime Advisory Committees.

ii). The States of Kerala, Odisha and Karnataka are in the process of constitution of SMBs.
iii). Andhra Pradesh, Goa and the Administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands have to expedite the process for establishment of SMBs

Importance of The Maritime Security of Indian Ocean Region:
The piracy haunts the international trade through sea route specially in areas like gulf of Eden. Piracy involves--- Robbery or high jacking , and targeting the vessel or capturing.Seaborne piracy against ships and vessels remains a significant issue particularly in
the waters between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, off the Somalia coast, and also in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year. 
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping and trade. In view of the economic costs of piracy and its adverse impact on global trade and threat posed to the security of the crew and the seafarers, there has been a coordinated multinational effort to patrol the waters near the Horn of Africa including India and its Navy and Coast Guards.

Review of the coastal security apparatus in the country is a continuous process. A three tier coastal security ring all along our coast is provided by Marine Police, Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy. The Government has initiated several measures to strengthen Coastal Security, which include improving surveillance mechanism and enhanced patrolling by following an integrated approach.
Joint operational exercises are conducted on regular basis among Navy, Coast Guard, Coastal Police, Customs and others for security of coastal areas including island territories. The intelligence mechanism has also been streamlined through the creation of Joint Operation Centers and multi-agency coordination mechanism.  
Installation of radars covering the country's entire coastline and islands is also an essential part of this process. 34 radars stations on the mainland have been activated. Coast Guard Stations along the coastline are set up considering the threat perception, vulnerability analysis and presence of other stations in the vicinity. At present 40 Coast Guard Stations along the coastline including 8 stations in Gujarat are functional.