Wary of terror threats from neighbouring countries, the central government has approved Rs 31,748 crore to draw up a "definitive five-year action programme" for the upgradation of the Coast Guard, a report on The Economic Times said.
The decision to bolster the Coast Guard, it is believed, will help avert future attacks from the sea, like the 26 November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. The Coast Guard works in combating piracy, smuggling, oil-spills, and also works in controlling coastal and marine pollution.
The programme plans to improve the Coast Guard's fleet with 175 ships (including patrol vessels and boats) and 110 aircraft by 2022 to bridge critical operational gaps, according to Zee News.
The plan aims to make the Coast Guard a 175-ship and 110-aircraft strong force by 2022. This also involves the acquisition of 30 helicopters, which itself will cost over Rs 5,000 crore, said The Economic Times.
The defence ministry has also ordered the procurement of 16 indigenous Dhruv choppers and 14 twin-engine EC-725 tactical choppers. This apart, there are also five more air stations/enclaves in the works.
There has been considerable focus on expanding the Coast Guard's fleet in the nine years since the 2008 attacks. "Post 26/11, the Indian Coast Guard has witnessed rapid expansion and the induction and recruitment of manpower. The recruitment process has been fast-tracked and approximately 130 officers and 720 EPs (enrolled personnel) are being recruited every year," the Ministry of Defence told the Lok Sabha in a written response in December 2016.
"The Coast Guard envisages surface platforms to grow from the present strength of 125 to 150 by 2018. Similarly, aircraft strength is expected to grow from 62 to 100 by 2020," a Hindustan Times report quoted Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre's response to the Lok Sabha.
The Coast Guard is also set to get five more air stations. "The existing 42 stations (20 were sanctioned after 26/11), under the five regional headquarters at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair, will also be fully-developed and made 'smart' with better infrastructure," sources told Zee News.
The 2008 attacks at the heart of India's commercial capital exposed a severe lack of coordination between intelligence agencies, naval forces, army and Coast Guard. The government has since shifted considerable focus on improving operations of the fleet and expanding the Coast Guard's strength.
Updated Date: Aug 16, 2017 16:35 PM