A strategically important new Naval base — INS Sardar Patel — was on Saturday commissioned in Porbandar, which Navy chief R.K. Dhowan said will help boost security of Gujarat’s 1600-km coastline.
The base was commissioned by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who used the occasion to mount an attack on the earlier UPA government, accusing it of ignoring the security concerns on the state coastline.
Ms. Patel unveiled the plaque and read the commissioning warrant of the new base which is second in the state for the Indian Navy after INS Dwarka near Okha.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Dhowan said the new base will help Gujarat strengthen security on its coastline.
“Gujarat is a thriving maritime state, which has 1600 km long coastline. The state has 43 private and public ports which has contribution of 50 per cent in country’s maritime industries. Around 120 million tonnes crude reaches various refineries in Gujarat from the Gulf of Kutch,” Mr. Dhowan told reporters on board Naval ship INS Kolkata.
“Besides, Gujarat has also a blooming ship building industry that comprises both the public and private ship yards. There are big fishing companies and also there are off—shore oil development area in sea blocks in Gujarat coast,” said Dhowan.
“These are our sea properties which has direct relations with economical condition of Gujarat and the country as well, he added.
“Navy has responsibility to protect our sea borders. Today, we have commissioned INS Sardar Patel that will ensure coordination requirements of our ships, submarines and aircraft that will be deployed in coastal regions of Gujarat. Their operational and administrative support and logistic support will be given by the new base,” said Mr. Dhowan.
Noting that Gujarat’s long coastline was important from the strategic point of view, the Chief Minister said Congress governments ignored coastal security of Gujarat during their regime and ultimately, the coastal border of the state was used in “anti-national activities like terrorism, smuggling of drugs and weapon.”
“Last month, Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy apprehended a suspected ship with narcotics substance of Rs. 600 crore. We have to remain alert on the issue of coastal security,” she said.
She also hailed the initiative of naming the base after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“It is the matter of pride not only for Gujarat but also for India as a Naval base has been named after Sardar Patel at the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi,” the CM said.
“Coastal security requirements of Gujarat will be fulfilled in coordination with other state-based maritime security agencies,” Mr. Dhowan said.
“The events of 26/11 have added a new dimension to the coastal security construct, which has enhanced responsibility, and the need for continued naval presence in this area,” a statement by the Navy said.
“The economic importance of this frontline maritime state and the significance of the unresolved maritime border dispute in Sir Creek in the overall national security dynamics are the core factors governing sustenance and operation of naval assets from the Forward Operating Naval Bases at Porbandar,” it further said.
“Gujarat has a coastline of 1600 km interspersed with 43 ports. Of these, Kandla being a major port, 11 are intermediate and 31 are minor ports. Presently 120 million tons, i.e. 71 per cent of the country’s oil is imported through the Gulf of Kutch, which is only steadily increasing,” it said.
“The ports of Gujarat handle 300 million tons of cargo annually, which is 30 per cent of the total cargo handled in the ports of India,” it said.
“In addition, the industrial development in Gujarat with its high maritime component and considerable industrial infrastructure on seafront makes it vulnerable from sea not only during hostilities but also during peacetime,” it said.
“The commissioning of INS Sardar Patel and augmentation of infrastructure and assets will provide the necessary impetus to meet this role,” it further said.
Commodore B R Prakash, who is the Naval Officer in Charge (Gujarat), is the First Commanding Officer of INS Sardar Patel.