New Delhi: With the responsibility of protecting the country's maritime interests and enforcement of maritime law, the Indian Coast Guard also doubles up as the guardian of Indian coastal line in case of hostile situation. With a force of about 10,440 active personnel, Indian Coast Guard works in close coordination with Indian Navy , local police and Customs to safeguard the country's economic and strategic interests.
The force has played an important role in safeguarding Indian strategic assets and the coastline since its inception on February 1, 1977. However, like other defence forces, the lack of timely upgradation and modernisation continues to haunt it.
With the growing threats from the neighbouring countries, the force need to modernise to meet the challenges. Especially to tackle any further 26/11 -like attacks.
"With the growing threat from the neighbouring country...especially, after 26/11 attack, we need to modernise the force. Although, the process is on but it needs to be expedited to meet the present challenges," said Commodore (retired) Uday Chitnavis.
"Indian Coast Guard has been doing a wonderful job in terms of securing Indian coastal line and controlling illegal activities in the Indian waters. This force is just 35-40 year-old. It has to go a long way," added Chitnavis.
After 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, the Central government has initiated a modernisation and expansion plan under which the force aims to have 150 ships and 100 twin-engined aircraft by 2020 in its fleet.
Here are few interesting facts about this force:
1. The setting up of Indian Coast Guard was first proposed by the Indian Navy to provide non-military maritime services like controlling sea-borne smuggling and other illegal activities in the Indian waters.
2. An interim Indian Coast Guard came into existence on February 1, 1977 with two small corvettes and five patrol boats borrowed from Indian Navy.
3. Initially the recommendations were made to put the Indian Coast Guard under Ministry of Home Affairs but then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted recommendation of the Rustamji Committee and placed it under the Ministry of Defence.
4. Unlike their counterparts in the three military services, the Indian Coast Guard personnel can serve upto the age of 60.
5. Indian Coast Guard is headed by a Director General (DG ICG). Vice Admiral VA Kamath was appointed the founding director general. The current DG is Vice-Admiral HCS Bhist, AVSM.