They are for safeguarding our seas
Indian Coast Guard was established formally on 18 August 1978 by Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent armed force of India.
S Vishnu Sharmaa, INN/Chennai, @svs037
Indian Coast Guard to celebrate 43rd Raising Day
For long the need to watch our seas was always being felt, and that force has doing the same since its inception. As the day is nearing for Indian Coast Guard to celebrate its 43rd Raising day on 1 February, Infodea went ahead to know more about the force that actively safeguards our coastal frontiers.
For a longtime our perception was to have a close watch on our frontiers with Pakistan, for danger could always come from there. But our borders with sea did receive little attention as many felt, problem to our security is a thing could perhaps never come from the seas. However, Mumbai attacks (aka 26/11) changed all that, and that was what gave our Coast Guard a greater role.
Why should Coast Guard not have a crucial role in safeguarding our nation’s seas?. A coastal line of 7,517 km, out of this about 5,423 km covers the mainland, while 2,094 km covers our Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this only shows how vital Coast Guard is for securing our nation from threats that arise from the seas.
Indian Coast Guard was established formally on 18 August 1978 by Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent armed force of India. An interim Indian Coast Guard came into being on 1 February 1977 with two small corvettes and five patrol boats tranferred from Indian Navy.
From there on, the force has steadily grown has the time moved ahead and currently it is said to be the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world. This is a force that has seen a noteworthy growth particularly after the popular 26/11 attacks. The Indian Coast Guard Stations across the country are said to be 71 now which was about 22 in 2008.
Worth a pat development is the measure of adding resources to the Coast Guard. Centre is said to have approved a Rs 31,748 crore prgramme to give more resources to it. Added to this, to meet with the changing situation the force has embarked on a journey of increasing its fleet.
The present strength of ICG is 137 ships and 62 aircrafts, sources point out that the fourth largest Coast Guard is said to be planning to attain a fleet strength of 200 ships and 100 aircraft by year 2023. There are no dearth of success stories for this force that guards our seas.
Worthnoting was the ICG’s rescue of Japanese cargo ship MV Alondra Rainbow which was hijacked off Indonesia.
Her crew were rescued off Phuket, Thailand. The ship had been repainted as MV Mega Rama and was spotted off Kochi, heading towards Pakistan. She was chased by ICGS Tarabai and INS Prahar (K98) of the Indian Navy, and apprehended. It was the first successful prosecution of armed pirates in over a century.
Its track record is splendrous when it comes to the recent Kerala floods. The Coast Guard worked round the clock, about 3,500 lives were saved. Many others were guided to safer locations. With every brightside that has pros, there is a darkside that has cons. The force has challenges too.
Sources say a major challenge looking at the force is said to be the staff shortage. The force with a strength of over 13,000 has a manpower shortage of over 18 percent. Increase in narcotic trafficking on the seas is another isssue which also remains a challenge. Apprehension of MV Henry in 2017 is perhaps a reminder of this.
Coasts have become a convenient route for refugees to travel. Even this issue is a challenge too. As problems galore, there is a ray of hope in our efforts to empower organisations like Coast Guard. Organisation that keeps our seas safe should be strong.