[Internal Security] Coastal Security in India - Threats, Challenges and Step to take

Coastal Security

Indian Coastline  7516 km. 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and 2008 Mumbai attacks were a proof of flaw in coastal security.

Threats and Challenges
·         Remoteness of these coastal areas makes them unguarded. Boats can easily land and
disappear in stealth and thus remains undetected.
·         Creek Areas of Gujarat and Sunderbans (W.B.) are particularly vulnerable to clandestine activities since they side by Pak and Bangladesh borders. Creeks are interconnected  through small islands and hence make border porous. Mangrooves and Sand Bars provides shelters. No approach channel from Indian Side.e.g. harami nala is a channel which originates from India enters Pakistan and then remerges in India is a major route for terrorists
·         Proximity to volatile countries. There is less than 2000 km distance between Gujarat and UAE. Dhows –large wooden boats used for trade are involved in illicit trade and smuggling from pakistan through Dubai. No mechanism to stop this trade. 
·         India’s proximity to Sri Lanka has undermined it’s security. LTTE and other migrants to Tamil Nadu are involved in clandestine activity.
·         Due to fencing of land borders, Bangladeshis have been creeping into through sea routes.
·         Unsettled Maritime Boundary disputes e.g.

 Riverine border along Sir Creek with Pakistan  and with Bangladesh dispute over maritime boundary and Islands that appear after cyclone i.e. New Moore in India and Talpatti in Bangladesh. The Island disappear but dispute does not.

Bangladesh instituted arbitral proceedings for the delimitation of the maritime boundary with India under Annex VII of UNCLOS,16 the verdict of which will be pronounced in 2014.

·         Discovery  of vast Hydrocarbons has complicated the situation. Neighbours are claiming the territory under EEZ
·         Strategic Installations although vital for security are high value targets for terrorists.
·         Increasing Maritime traffic

Three tier structure of Coastal Security

Indian Navy
Overall Maritime security (outer tier)
Does not have power to control other
Organizations and their resources
Indian Coast Guard
Territorial water till shoreline (Intermediate Tier)
Not responsible for complete coastal security
Coordinates only Central and state agencies
Marine Police
Patrolling Shallow and Inland water
No responsible for Intrusion

  • Other organization such as Custom department and CISF (Marine wing) uses the interceptor boat for Patrolling without having the technical knowledge and manpower to use it. Hence, either the national assets go waste or send for repair due to mishandling.
  • Capabilities in terms of assets, manpower, presence, mindset and mind-set are poor. e.g. Indian Navy only prepares for war time defence. Marine Police receives inadequate state attention.
  • Organisations do not share intelligence with each other and work reluctantly. Propels only on saving their own goals.
  • Measures such as Joint operation Centres, Coordination Committees and Joint coastal security exercises prove inadequate

Why Indian Coast Guards should be given sole responsibility ?

1.       Strong presence along entire coastline
2.       has training, tradition and the mind-set. 
3.       functioned as the national authority for Offshore Security Coordination Committee (OSCC), national authority for maritime search and rescue, lead intelligence agency for coastal borders and the coordinating agency for coastal security.
4.       established good working relationships with concerned organisations as well as with fishermen.

Steps to take
1.    The Charter of ICG should be amended and its forces should be enhanced and Indian Navy should be freed to develop its wartime capabilities.
2.      The ICG should be treated as a border guarding force and brought under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This will ensure administrative cohesion and revenue flows.
3.       MHA should concentrate on training of Marine Police
4.       Include private players in Maritime security
5.       Should recruite talented local fisherman in Marine Police.
6.       Training should be conducted frequently
7.       State and Centre govt. should co-operate with each other.

News for coastal Security

Small boats a threat

Indian Coast Guard is wary of small vessels without masts in the seas with engines can be operated with oars and are capable of mixing with fishing boats. But Human Intelligence is applied to find the odd boat.

  •  A Pilot project for tracking vessels < 20 metres began.
  • Difficult to put technology on small boats which do not have masts.
  • But registration of fishermen completed and data has been shared with different units of coast guards.
  • Radio identification fingerprinting of boats will take place and the prototype model is in place. Card readers are also being provided to monitor movement of the crafts.
  • Floating armouries are cause of concern. Due to pressure on Somalian pirates they have moved their operation east towards India. Merchant vessels no carry armed guards and since they operate close to Indian waters these guards posed a challenge to us.
  • It through ministry of shipping urged regulation of these merchant ships and recording of data of their crew, armed guards and weapons carried by them.
  • Patrolling has been increased by 75 percent.- vessels + chetak helicopters.
  • Coast guard has already completed the first phase of the Coastal Security Scheme at Rs.600 under which 73 Marine Police Stations has been set up.


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  2. Where has that project been carried out?

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