‘Seas must become India’s opportunity region in the future’

Navy to sign blue economy MoU with Indian Ocean Rim Association member states, says Navy chief

Updated - April 23, 2021 08:26 pm IST

Published - April 23, 2021 08:23 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.File.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.File.

The Navy is planning a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the member states of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for information sharing on critical issues as part of the regional grouping’s emphasis on the development of a blue economy through a common vision for balanced economic development in the region, said Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Friday.

“We have the resources, assets and domain expertise for mapping, characterising, monitoring as well as enforcing good order at sea. The Navy’s aim is to create an enabling ecosystem that supports the blue economy,” Admiral Singh said, addressing a webinar by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The only way to achieve India’s aim to emerge as a $5 trillion economy was to move outwards as the oceans provide a vast resource pool, the Navy chief said. “With the anticipated addition of the extended continental shelf, our sea area will equal India’s land area. This, combined with India’s location, a 7,516 km long coastline, 14,500 km length of navigable inland waterways, and 1,382 islands — I think the seas must become India’s opportunity region in the coming future,” he said.

Stating that the Navy sought to be both an enabler and an element in the national and regional blue economy efforts, Admiral Singh suggested three ways in which the Navy could — maintaining comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); coordinating with various national and international maritime agencies; and supporting the maritime capability development of littoral nations.

The IORA is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region through its 23 member states and nine dialogue partners.

“We are also lending support to the National Deep Ocean Mission, which aims to send a manned mission to a depth of 6,000 metres for the survey of poly-metallic nodules and hydrothermal deposits, as also research on deep sea biodiversity,” Adm. Singh said on the Navy’s role in the blue economy. “The Navy’s experience in operating manned and unmanned submersibles, and our understanding of the underwater domain would pool into this national effort,” he said.

Stating that a comprehensive MDA remains a “challenge” given the expanse, Adm. Singh stressed on coordination between various national and international maritime agencies to close gaps in “understanding, policing and jurisdiction”.

Referring to the recent drug haul west of Minicoy, he said it was enabled by close coordination with various national agencies. “These drugs eventually find their way into tourism-oriented economies, leading to economic, social and law and order issues that can sap a nation, or transform it from a ‘tourism’ to a ‘terrorism’ hub because of the close linkage between the drug trade and terror,” he said.

On supporting the maritime capability development of littoral nations, Admiral Singh said that the Navy supported partner nations, among other matters, in the construction of patrol vessels, installation of radar chains, training, information sharing and joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance.

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