New Delhi: In a boost to India's maritime security interests, the country's west coast has been excluded from piracy High Risk Area (HRA) by a top body of the European Union, which will lead to an increased saving of Rs 23,000 crore for the country's shipping industry.
The decision, taken yesterday by?European Union's Chair of the Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), will come into effect from December 1, and India has welcomed the move.
"We welcome this development which reflects the changed ground realities," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
The Indian Navy said that with the revision of the HRA, which was extended to include the west coast of India in 2010, some of the country's maritime security concerns like floating armouries and proliferation of private security are likely to be addressed.
In addition, Indian ship-owners are likely to benefit significantly on account of savings on insurance and associated operating costs.
Navy officials said that the increased savings to shipping industry would be Rs 23,000 crore.
HRA was extended from 65 degree East Longitude to 78 degree East Longitude in 2010 in the wake of a surge in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia.
Since then, the international maritime forces have undertaken extensive counter-piracy operations and successfully mitigated piracy in this region.
Indian naval forces too have played a critical role in these operations and have been able to ensure security in our maritime zones. As a result, no piracy attacks have taken place east of 65 degree East Longitude for more than 3 years now, the MEA said.
India had been seeking revision of the HRA back to 65 degree East Longitude as continuation of the extended HRA had both economic and security implications.
Payment of Additional War Risk Premium (AWRP) over the extended HRA added to the cost of transportation.
The shipping traffic had moved closer to the Indian coast and the heightened alert had resulted in unfortunate incidents of firing on Indian fishing boats mistaken as pirate skiffs, MEA said.
India had taken up this matter at the meetings of the CGPCS and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as bilaterally with the members of the CGPCS.
It added that the revision of the HRA will ensure an optimal utilisation of international resources to combat maritime piracy by focusing international efforts to the actual areas of high-risk.