Friday 20 September 2019, 06:52 AM
Coast guard will get major boost with Rs 31,748 crore plan
By BDK Bureau | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 5/23/2019 2:53:01 PM
Coast guard will get major boost with Rs 31,748 crore plan

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has commenced a ‘five year programme’  to increase force-levels of offshore patrol vessels, boats, helicopters, aircraft and critical operational infrastructure.The project costing Rs 31,748 crore was okayed by the Ministry of Defence in 2017.The target is to make the Coast Guard a 175-ship and 110-aircraft force by 2022.This will plug operational gaps and strengthen capabilities to safeguard coastal security, island territories, offshore assets and marine environment as well as undertake anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, oil-spill and pollution-control operations.

The Coast Guard, is the MoD’s smallest force after the Army, IAF and Navy, however, its role has become crucial ever since the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai in 2008. India has a 7,516-km coastline, with 1,382 islands and a sprawling Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.01 million sq km, which will go up to almost 3 million sq km after delimitation of the Continental Shelf.The upgrade will not take long, the force already has 65 ships and interceptor crafts/boats under construction. The acquisition of 30 helicopters for over Rs 5,000 crore is also underway.
 
The ICG will add 16 indigenous ALH , already ordered from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The procurement of 14 twin-engine EC-725 tactical choppers, which can carry up to 30 passengers, from Airbus is in the final stages of approval now. The force will be looking at six more maritime multi-mission surveillance aircraft, the force will also get five more air stations/enclaves to add to the existing nine such establishments. There are an existing 42 stations  under the five regional headquarters at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair, will also be fully-developed and made 'smart' with better infrastructure.ICG will focus on development of critical operational infrastructure like jetties for ships and hangers for aircraft.

The present strength of ICG: It currently has 130 ‘surface ships – that includes 60 ships like offshore patrol vessels, fast patrol vessels and pollution-control vessels. It has another 18 hovercrafts, and 52 smaller interceptor boats/crafts. 
The Air wing has 40 Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft, and 20 Chetak choppers and besides 6 Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALH). It has an existing manpower of around 1,600 officers, 9,000 uniformed personnel and 1,200 civilians. The ICG, primarily has a non-military maritime security charter, except during war when it joins with the Navy for defence operations.

The 26/11 changed everything: The force, is a ‘lead intelligence agency for coastal and sea borders’. The 26/11 Mumbai carnage, had exposed the lack of "critical connectivity'' between intelligence agencies and security agencies. Since then, the Navy and Coast Guard have been dramatically changed to have maritime vigil. Several other measures, ranging from Phase-I of the coastal surveillance radar network to the naval NC3I (national command, control, communication and intelligence) network have been implemented and ICG has major role in operating these. 
To further synergise its search and rescue (SAR) efforts, the ICG has set up Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres and Sub-centres at its Regional and District Headquarters for coordination of rescue efforts. The ICG has also established a vessel reporting system, INDSAR, exclusively for SAR coordination and a toll free no 1554 for SAR emergency response.

History: Set up in 1978 with a specific charter for non-military maritime safety and security functions in the maritime zones of India, the ICG has come a long way since its humble beginning. It had started off with two old frigates which were transferred from the Indian Navy and five patrol boats obtained from the Department of Customs. Subsequently, two Chetak helicopters and two Fokker Friendship (F-27) aircraft, leased from Indian Airlines formed the air arm of ICG.
 

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Indian,Coast,Guard,ICG,helicopters,vessels,infrastructure

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