Coastal Security of India and the Gom Recommendations International


INTRODUCTION

“If the world were to sit up and take note of terrorism on land, it must now stand to, to use a naval phrase, and prepare itself for possible terrorist acts at sea. The task will not be easy because of the nature of the maritimae domain or the theatre where acts of maritime terrorism will be perpetrated.” Adm Madhvendra Singh [1] 1. As the smoke billowing from hotel Taj in South Mumbai grabbed the attention of every news channel on 26 Nov 08 [2] , a country of 100 billion watched helplessly the shocking reality of the porous coastal security of Indian state, the only country in the world to have an ocean named after it .

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During his assignment at Mumbai, the author had been allotted a house in the naval officers enclave overlooking the Arabian sea on one side and the busy lanes of Colaba and Cuffe Parade on the other. Mumbai_attack Figure : Attack on Hotel Taj The horrid scenes of that fateful night would return to haunt every morning as the dome of hotel Taj, a symbol of majestic aura and regal legacy, visible at a distant landscape would usher the memories flooding back. Although a thesis or a dissertation requires an objective research, devoid of any emotional overtones, many a time the author could not help such occurrences. It may not find favour with the norms of writing a dissertation as described by Dr Gopalji Malviya [3] however, it did add to the pursuit of the subject with passion and enthusiasm.

Coastal Security

2. Coastal security, a major subset of an all encompassing subject of maritime security, has been on the centre stage, post terror attack on Mumbai on 26 Nov 08. India, being a maritime state, has numerous interests in the maritime zones and safeguarding these interests, has thrown up fresh challenges in the fast deteriorating security environment. 3. The use of sea route by terrorists for attack at Mumbai has highlighted the vulnerability of our coastline and the lacunae in our existing security mechanism [4] . The sphere of activities in the maritime environment is vast and thus, a number of agencies which include Indian Navy, Coast Guard, State Marine Police, Customs, fisheries, port authorities and other central and state departments, are the stake holders in the maritime domain. This multi agency environment requires co-operation, co-ordination and understanding of each others’ strengths as well as limitations, to ensure fool proof security by optimum exploitation of limited resources. The vulnerability of Indian coastal set up had been exposed earlier in the 1993 Mumbai blasts when the explosives had found their way into a desolate landing spot in Raigad coast. Only this time, it was not a wakeup call but a slap on the face of intelligence and security agencies. [5] Kasab101terrorists Figure : Terrorists from Pakistan Post Kargil, the government of India had set up a committee of Group of Ministers (GoM) for reviewing the national security setup and the GoM recommendations were approved by the government in Oct 2001 [6] . The issue of coastal security was adequately addressed by the GoM. What caused this colossal breach of security is an entirely different subject for study, but a visit to the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) would be in order.

GoM Recommendations

Figure : Coastal Security Scheme4. Coastal Security Scheme(CSS). In pursuance of the recommendations of the Group of Ministers [7] , MHA formulated policy for setting up of marine police stations in the coastal states and Union Territories [8] . The objective of the Coastal Security Scheme was to strengthen the infrastructure for patrolling and surveillance of coastal areas, particularly shallow areas close to the coast which hitherto have remained largely un-policed. On the recommendations of the GoM, various actions were initiated by the government which included the following:- India_coastal_security_scheme (a) Activation of Border Management (BM) division in MHA. (b) Setting up of 10 Coast Guard stations along the coastline to beef up coastal security. These Coast Guard stations are to be funded by the border management division of MHA under the coastal security scheme. (c) Procurement of 16 IBs for coastal security. (d) Setting up coastal radar chain all along the mainland coastline. (e) Setting up of Marine Police in all the coastal states and island territories. 5. GoM also recommended certain measures for enhancing the coastal security and the security of Indian ports. Some of these recommendations include the following:- (a) A Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) to be installed in approaches to ports and channels to effectively monitor and control movements of ships entering / leaving ports or channels. In principle, VTMS should be installed in all major ports and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In addition, the proposal for VTMS schemes for the Gulf of Kutch and offshore oil platforms should be expedited. (b) The issue and accounting procedures of the customs / immigration should be made more stringent so that the same cannot be circumvented after persons issued with it have been deported. The Customs/Immigration facilities at minor ports also be strengthened. (c) Necessary instructions need to be issued by DG, Shipping on the subject of Seaman’s Cards. The cards should be made tamper-proof, affixed with a photo and laminated. (d) The laws and procedures relating to detention and prosecution of poachers and confiscation of boats need to be tightened. The concerned Ministries/Departments of the Government of India should consider setting up Maritime Courts or alternatively, giving powers of prosecution and detention to the Coast Guard and to the proposed Marine Police.

METHODOLOGY

Statement of the Problem

6. To analyse the Indian Coastal Security model and identify the capabilities required for a credible and effective force to counter threats with comparative analysis of the US prototype and the international experience.

Justification of the Study

7. Due to its geographical position, India has had a land-oriented defence philosophy for many centuries, dictated partially by the fact that before the European period, which resulted in colonisation of India, all invasions had come over land from the West. The wars fought by India post-independence, to a large extent, have been ‘land-centric’ though an increasingly important role played by the navy was also witnessed. The last two decades have seen an increase in the activities and presence of powerful nations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) underlining the importance of a credible naval force to counter the seaward threat to India [9] . 8. The events in the past few decades, in India and world-wide, clearly indicate that the maritime boundaries of any nation are within the reach of not only neighbouring states but also terrorist organisations and non-state actors [10] . To address the rising asymmetric threat, there exists an urgent need to analyse the threat to India’s national security from seaborne asymmetric attacks with emphasis on the protection of critical coastal infrastructure including VAs/VPs and analyse the capabilities existing or required to counter such threats. Post 26/11, the responsibility for security of the nation against external aggression from the sea involving smaller vessels and asymmetric attacks, has also shifted to the Indian Navy, in conjunction with Indian Coast Guard. As the Navy comes to terms with her newfound responsibility closer to the coast, it requires a change of mindset and a shift of focus from a blue-water navy, to one, additionally capable of carrying out effective constabulary operations in the brown-waters.

Scope

10. The aim of the dissertation is to identify the challenges faced by the nation to counter the threat to coastal security from seaborne asymmetric attacks and recommend suitable remedial measures. The analysis of US prototype as well as international experience and relevance in Indian context will be carried out to chart the way ahead.

Hypothesis

11. The present capability of India’s security forces, including their associated infrastructure and inter-agency coordination, needs augmentation as well as revival to effectively counter the threat from seaborne asymmetric attacks.

Methods of Data Collection

12. The main sources of the dissertation are the books relevant to maritime affairs and articles, reports and essays published in various reputed publications and articles available in discussion forums on the internet. In addition survey method and questionnaire as well as interview of stakeholders in the present coastal security setup would be carried out.

Organisation of the Dissertation

13. The subject is intended to be studied under the following heads: – (a) Chapter I – Introduction and Methodology. (b) Chapter II – Existing Indian Model. (c) Chapter III – Concepts of Coastal Security in the USA. (d) Chapter IV -.International Experience (e) Chapter V – India’s Coastal Security – Challenges and Vulnerabilities (f) Chapter VI – Present Status and Recommendations..

CHAPTER II

IMPERATIVES FOR COASTAL SECURITY AND CHALLENGES OF INDIAN SETUP

“In conjointly fighting terrorism, we ought to make it loud and clear that no idea, no cause whatsoever, can justify terrorism. Questions like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terrorism should not be entertained for such distinctions are coloured and tainted by bias, prejudice and narrow thinking. Terrorists belong to no religion for they are not apostles of peace but messengers of death and destruction.” – HE Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India

Securing Indian Maritime Borders

Geo-Strategic Location of India. Sitting astride the busy shipping lanes, the so called arteries of the global trade,India is the second largest in the Indian Ocean region, after Australia. With a coastline of 7516 km, [11] the Indian peninsula extends 1,240 miles into the Indian Ocean. A fact file about the maritime profile of India with relevant details is placed at Appendix A. India has an EEZ of 2.02 million square kilometres, which is equivalent to 61% of the landmass; which is expected to go up to almost 3 million sq km after the delimitation of the continental shelf. [12] Figure : Salient Maritime Facts Indian Influence in IOR. The steady rise of India as a result of the extensive reforms and economic growth in the range of eight to nine percent per annum has set the stage for economic, political and security engagement amongst the IOR countries. With the emergence of Indian and Chinese influence in the region ,the Indian Ocean is projected to match the Pacific in geo-strategic importance. [13] Keeping these realities in mind, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), was initiated by Indian Navy in 2008. This has provided a regional forum through which the Navies of the littoral states of IOR can meet periodically and engage one another constructively through the creation and promotion of regionally relevant mechanisms, events and activities. With the security environment engulfing the seascape with threats of maritime terrorism, the role for India has assumed greater significance. WORLD PHYSICAL

Drivers for Coastal Security

Defence of Outlying Island Territory. A vast number of island territories stretch across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Some of these, in the Nicobar group, are in fact, geographically closer to Indonesia and Malaysia than to the Indian mainland [14] . This extended coastline requires adequate policing and surveillance. At sea, unlike on the land border, outposts or fences cannot be erected. Offshore Assets. India has a vast EEZ and the offshore sector contributes nearly 65% and 70% of India’s crude oil and natural gas products respectively [15] . Most of the hydrocarbon industry is located close to their offshore oil installations. It is therefore obvious that all these assets are extremely vulnerable to attacks from the sea. C:Documents and SettingsMCM GENERALDesktop15233030ongc.jpg Figure : Concern for Offshore Installations Shipping and Trade. Today 95% of the world trade is carried out by sea. Handling of trade depends, largely on the port infrastructure. India has 13 major, 185 intermediate and minor ports which handle 170 million tonnes of cargo [16] . Of this, a mere ten percent utilises coastal shipping and the rest is overseas, with more than a 100 ships passing through India’s area of interest each day. Fishing. The world’s fishing catch is about 100 million tonnes per annum. Of this about ten million tonnes takes place in the Indian Ocean. It is estimated that India’s EEZ has a sustainable potential of over 40 million tonnes, which is four times more than her catch today. Cross Border Movements. The fishing hamlets close to the IMBL and the most volatile trespassing zone off Sir Creek area share an interesting fact. A prized catch in these waters is of “Lal Pari”, the red snapper fish, considered a delicacy that breeds in the confluence of fresh water of Indus meeting the saline water of Arabian sea. It is perhaps the lure of this prize catch that draws the fishermen to disregard IMBL restrictions. A large number of Indian fishing boats have been apprehended by Pak MSA. The use of any of these captured boats to infiltrate across the IMBL can not be ruled out. The details of 419 boats in Pak custody obtained from Fisheries department are placed at Appendix B. [17] Figure : A Prized Catch of Red Snapper Seabed Mining. The thirst for oil and hunger of industry for raw materials, minerals has rendered oceans a huge repository of resources. India , a pioneer state for the exploitation of sea bed resources has been allocated 15 million square kilometres in the central Indian Ocean for exploitation of resources. Need for coastal security. The IOR is home to nations, diverse in terms of geography, history and economy. Religion, ideologies and political systems are key triggering aspects in this region. Sensitive installations along the coast such as BARC in Mumbai, Kalpakkam nuclear power plant in Chennai, Mumbai High offshore oil facility, Chandipur-at-sea missile testing range in Orissa and the Equatorial Rocket Launching Station at Thumba and Goa Shipyard are believed to be in the targeting list of terrorists. [18] Thus, the Indian Coast today is being exploited by terrorists for influencing the terror on land and to attack high value targets for political impact and to spread terror amongst the population. There is, therefore, an urgent need to address the coastal security challenges and vulnerabilities to evolve a policy of cooperative engagement, not only within the country, but also in the region to arrive at strategic options in prosecuting these threats.

MARITIME VULNERABILITIES

Maritime Threats. The IOR will remain a hotbed of interests, as the epicentre of world politics and concerns for decades, owing to its immense strategic importance and economic significance. From conventional naval confrontation, sneak terrorist attacks, hostage-takings, hijacking oil tankers, deliberate pollution of the coast, smuggling of – weapons, narcotics, raw material for chemical and biological warfare to suicide attacks on ships at sea or anchor, India’s maritime threats are indeed varied. Porous Coastline. Unlike the land border, there are no outposts or fences at sea. ‘Operation Water Rat’ by CNN IBN for example, had exposed the glaring loopholes in 2006 in the coastal security setup. The 26 Nov 08 assault on India’s commercial capital has stripped the nation out of complacency and exposed the fragile ‘Indian coastal security architecture.’ A porous coastline, touching nine states and four union territories, 13 major and 185 minor ports, and a vast EEZ is proving to be difficult to patrol. [19] Uninhabited Islands. Nearly 1,200 uninhabited islands in our seas pose a major security threat as these are being scanned by terror outfits. Although the vulnerability of these islands has been discussed in every high-level meeting, not many in the security establishment are sure whether these uninhabited tracts are actually free from jihadi elements. Sea Borne Attack. Seasoned naval observers had foreseen a terrorist attack from the sea. Vice Admiral Arun Kumar Singh (Retd) had predicted a seaborne terrorist attack on India in his newspaper column on 18 May 08. He had argued that there was substance in the Intelligence Bureau’s (IB) assessment that “terrorists were planning seaborne attacks against dozens of oil rigs, including production and support platforms, along India’s coast” [20] . Yet, not enough was done to prevent such an attack. Gun Running. Smuggling of narcotics and gun-running generates huge amounts of money that fuels terrorism amongst other things. The arms supply for the LTTE movement was funnelled through in this manner across the Bay of Bengal. Many such vessels have been apprehended or neutralised over the years of LTTE’s existence, but the Sea-tigers of the LTTE had amply demonstrated that the coasts could prove easy ingress points despite substantial patrolling [21] . Given her history, demographics and pluralistic society, India is especially vulnerable to similar targeting by similar non-state actors. Clearly, it is necessary to take issues of maritime security far more seriously than has been done thus far. Fishing Boats. The fishermen go where there is fish. They routinely cross across virtual boundaries, for example, in the Palk Bay, 300 to 500 Indian fishing boats cross over to the Sri Lankan side and return the next day after fishing. Similarly the Sri Lankan boats cross over into the Indian side of the IMBL in the Gulf of Mannar. A couple of patrolling IN and ICG ships in addition to Sri Lankan warships are unable to counter such large numbers despite concerted efforts because of the sheer numbers. Picture a010.jpgfishing Offshore Platforms. Offshore platforms engaged in exploitation of oil and gas are quite vulnerable to clandestine attack. The only security being provided is, by slow hired fishing boats/ trawlers to prevent unauthorised vessels from closing the platforms to less than 500 meters. The offshore infrastructure of India presently consists of more than 25 Process platforms, 125 Well platforms and more than 3000 km of pipeline on the seabed. The existing area where production is going on is more than 17,000 sq nm. Any disruption in oil production can have a snowballing effect on the nation’s economy. Hence, it is incumbent that adequate maritime forces/ resources be provided to strengthen the security of these National assets. Underwater warfare. Underwater Warfare suits terrorist requirements of low technology and unconventional means to challenge a superior force. The capture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, [22] the alleged mastermind of Al Qaeda’s nautical strategy has revealed that Al Qaeda would use small submersible, underwater motor-propelled sleds that divers use and “human torpedoes” to carry out underwater attacks. Another form of dangerous underwater warfare is mines, which are well suited for deployment in coastal waters. [23] This threat raises questions about underwater security, which has been overlooked time and again. Port Security. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and private security organisations manage the security of various Indian ports. The ports at Kandla and Mundra in Gujarat jointly handle the largest chunk of export-import cargo in the country. With Mundra being the first port of call for any ship coming from Pakistan it is highly prone to terrorist attacks. While the security personnel employed at Mundra are ex-army, they are not permitted to use firearms. The ICG and Marine police are constantly patrolling these areas but they lack equipment and boats for any effective security. [24] Most of the ports and harbours in India suffer a similar, pathetic state of security infrastructure and are highly vulnerable. Port security at our ports, large or small, is inadequate to say the least. Threat from Containers. The transportation of cargo these days is mainly by shipping it in containers. The officials at the Indian ports have neither the means of knowing the contents of the numerous containers that transit in and out of our ports, nor is there a mechanism in place to scan these containers on arrival. An American led Container Security Initiative(CSI), which would make it mandatory for containers to be scanned, has not received acceptance by India because apparently the Left parties saw it as an effort to subvert our sovereignty. Almost anything can be carried in containers including narcotics, arms and explosives, including migrant stowaways. While the CSI caters for containers headed towards the US, this could well be universally implemented. India’s stance on CSI may need a relook. Narcotics Trade. Iran and Pakistan form a major portion of the drug-infested “golden crescent,” while Myanmar and Thailand constitute a major portion of the “golden triangle.” As all these states are in the IOR, it is natural that drug trafficking is a major security concern for littoral states like India, which has witnessed its own emergence as a transit point for a majority of the drugs that emanate from these two areas. [25] The sea is a huge expanse where hundreds of boats are encountered and it is next to impossible to completely scan this traffic. Though effective coastal surveillance is required; the complete physical barricading of the coast is impossible, invariably leaving the coast porous. [26] Flag of Convenience (FOC) Shipping. The presence of vessels flying Flags of Convenience poses different challenges at sea. These vessels are characterised by low safety standards and lax manning regulations. [27] Such ships are considered the safest bet for carrying out terrorist-related activities. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), [28] for example, had an entire flotilla engaged in dubious maritime trade. The world’s largest merchant shipping fleet ostensibly belongs on paper to three lesser known countries, Panama, Honduras and Liberia. Intelligence. To be able to act decisively it is necessary to have what was termed by Admiral Suresh Mehta (Retd) as ‘Actionable Intelligence.’ The external intelligence agency- Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the internal agency- Intelligence Bureau (IB) need to share specific, actionable and effective intelligence. This has been a serious lacuna, at least partially attributable to turf wars. Incidentally, the CIA had provided two warnings of a “possible attack on targets in Mumbai which were frequented by foreigners”. [29] Often, vital intelligence gets camouflaged in the undecipherable maze of bureaucratic procedures. To say that cohesion between various agencies leaves a lot to be desired would be an understatement. End Notes

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