Steps to increase coverage area of helpline from three to 10 nautical miles
: The cycle expedition launched jointly by the Coastal Security Group (CSG) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to create awareness of sea safety and coastal security, and popularise “1093,” a toll free coastal security helpline, arrived here on Tuesday
Additional Director General of Police (CSG) C. Sylendra Babu, who is leading the rally from Chennai to Kanyakumari, launched on February 6, along with ICG Commandant S. Premkumar, said that steps were being taken to increase the coverage area of the helpline from three nautical miles to 10 nautical miles.
He said the helpline with control room in Chennai was introduced to rescue fishermen in distress. Only fishermen who were inside three nautical miles in the sea could reach the number now but the CSG was holding talks with the service providers to enhance the coverage area to 10 nautical miles.
Fishermen along the entire coast, from Tada near Andhra Pradesh to Kulachal in Kanyakumari, could use the helpline. Fishermen in Puducherry and Karaikal could also contact the number, he told reporters at the Mandapam station of ICG on Tuesday.
He said the number was introduced as the distress calls made by fishermen through other modes of communication led to delay. Last year, 260 calls were received through the helpline and the CSG, in coordination with the ICG, had rescued 181 fishermen and 41 of their boats, he said.
Fishermen could alert the CSG on coastal security as well. An international human trafficker was arrested and detained under the National Security Act in September last thanks to the information provided by fishermen, he said.
Mr. Babu, who is pedalling all the way from Chennai, said the team was meeting fishermen in 10 to 15 villages and interacting with them on sea safety, coastal security and the helpline. They stressed the need for fishermen to possess the Distress Alert Transmitter (DAT), developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), while fishing on high seas.
Explaining the DAT features, Mr. Premkumar said the devise had four options with indications for medical assistance, rescue in case of drowning, fire and vessel sinking.
The fishermen could seek the assistance by pressing a button.
Once the fishermen pressed a button for assistance, the ISRO would receive a message at its headquarters in Sriharikota and after decoding the message, it would alert the Maritime Resource Coordination Centres in Chennai, Mumbai and Port Blair, he said.
Indian fishermen, however, were reluctant to carry the devise, costing Rs.15,000, as the Lankan Navy had confiscated them whenever they were fishing beyond the International Maritime Boundary Line, he said. After a day’s rest at the Coast Guard Station, Mandapam, the expedition will proceed to Kanyakumari on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the expedition was received by District Collector K. Nanthakumar, Deputy Inspector General of Police M. Ramasubramani and Superintendent of Police N. M. Mylvahanan. ICG, Mandapam Station Commander H. H. More welcomed them at Mandapam.