Kolkata: The Indian Coast Guard on Saturday called for further strengthening of India's coastal defence, and for developing a monitoring system to keep a tab on the over 2.5 lakh fishing vessels that operate near the coastline.
Addressing the media on the eve of the Coast Guard's 38th Raising Day, Inspector General V.S.R. Murthy, commander of the Coast Guard's northeast region spanning West Bengal and Odisha, said the force was also banking to improve its operability on the completion of a deep sea port at Sagar Islands in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district.
"There are 2.5 lakh fishing vessels in India. You don't know whether a boat is a friend or a foe until and unless we physically check those onboard and it is impossible to check each and every boat.
"Therefore, it is imperative that a system is developed to keep tabs on the movement of these vessels by fitting a simple transponder on each and every boat. While bigger ships having navigational system cannot escape our hawk eye, these small boats without any such system can be a threat," said Murthy.
He stressed the developing of a monitoring system for fishing boats, especially in the wake of a suspicious Pakistani fishing boat loaded with explosives blowing up in the sea off Gujarat after being intercepted by the Coast Guard.
Murthy said the Coast Guard's operability in the northeast region will be enhanced once the deep sea port comes up.
Union Shipping, Highways and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier in the month sanctioned the Rs.12,000 crore project.
"Currently, we operate our ships and hovercraft from our stations in Haldia and Frazerganj. But once the Sagar port comes up, our operability will be enhanced manifold. We are in talks with the government for providing the adequate platform to develop our infrastructure there," Murthy said.
With the Coast Guard set to increase its number of ships to 150 and aircraft to 100 by 2018, Murthy said the force's assets in the North East region will also increase.
"Currently, we operate two ships and four Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) in Bengal and six ships in Odisha. We are in the process of acquiring more assets," he said.