Dec 24, 2010
NEW DELHI — Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony will open two coast guard stations during a visit to the Lakshadweep Islands to facilitate closer coordination among maritime stakeholders and enhance coastal security.
Increasing incidents of piracy near Lakshadweep have heightened security concerns in the region. The Lakshadweep archipelago comprises 36 islands with an area of about 32 sq. km. (12 sq. mi.). Only 11 of the islands are inhabited.
The territorial waters comprise about 20,000 sq. km. The Eight Degree Channel, which separates Minicoy island from the Maldives, has traffic of about 30-40 ships a day.
The first phase of the government’s coastal surveillance plan envisions 73 coastal police stations, 204 boats,
153 ground vehicles, 304 two-wheeled vehicles and related equipment in place by March 2011.
A second phase has been approved at a cost of $350 million, to provide 131 more stations, 180 boats, 10 large vessels and 60 jetties.
A uniform system for registration of all boats is in place, and identity cards are being issued to fishermen. An effort also is underway to install transponders on vessels to ensure identification and tracking, a coast guard official says.
- Neelam Mathews