Maharashtra, Gujarat clusters of coastal radars inaugurated
Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Saturday acknowledged that cyber crime was becoming a major threat to national security and said the armed forces were bracing to cope with the challenge.
“Earlier we focused on protecting the land, sea and air space. Of late, we have realised that cyber crime is a major problem. The armed forces are mandated to safeguard cyber security,” he said during the inauguration of the Maharashtra cluster of coastal radars meant for enhancing the coastal surveillance network.
The first phase of the project, at a cost of around Rs. 600 crore, will see the installation of static sensors at 46 places along the coastline. Of these, 36 will be on the mainland, while six will be installed at various locations in Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands. Four static sensors will be installed in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Official sources said the work on Maharashtra and Gujarat clusters was complete.
Mr. Antony, after inaugurating the Maharashtra cluster, inaugurated the Gujarat cluster from Porbandar.
Static sensors have been installed at five radar stations in Maharashtra, of which four were declared functional on Saturday. They include Tarapore, Korlai fort, Tolkeshwar and Devgarh. The radar station at Kanhoji Angre or Khanderi lights is yet to be functional.
The stations will have cameras which can cover up to 10 nautical miles in fair weather. They will also have radars transmitting movement in 25 nautical miles. The stations will be equipped with night vision, Automatic Identification System and thermal sensors. “They will transmit information to the Remote Operating Stations which will transmit information to Regional Operating Centres. They will send the data to the Command Centre in New Delhi,” Commandant Prashant Kumar Sharma said.
“India has a coastline of around 7,500 km. Protecting it is a herculean task. Even a small fishing boat can be used by the anti-national elements for dastardly attacks. We have taken steps to increase the capability of the security forces for surveillance and a more robust security mechanism. The installation of these radar stations will enable the monitoring of highly sensitive, high traffic areas. They will act as force multipliers,” Mr. Antony said.
But he also warned that the installation of the 46 radar stations in the first phase and 38 radar stations in the second phase should not be interpreted as foolproof coastal security. “Any interpretation that this will lead to complete coastal security is a misnomer. We have to synergise efforts [of all the forces] and share data on real-time basis,” he said.
He emphasised on the role of local fishermen community in aiding coastal security measures, but did not answer specific questions on the efforts made by the Central government to seek the State government’s support in regulating the small fishing vessels and sensitising the community.
Asked about the recent ceasefire violations at the Indian border, Mr. Antony said such violations occurred occasionally. “There is a set mechanism to handle it,” he said. He said post-26/11, there had been a sea change in the attitude of the security forces wherein all have started working in tandem.
“We need to be alert 24x7 in maritime, coastal, border security, security in the air and cyber space. Any lapse in one area can affect the whole,” he said. Mr. Antony pointed out that the capability of the Coast Guard was fast rising and their acquisitions too were increasing.