Talks on with Pak to resolve Sir Creek issue: Antony
Porbandar: Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday said that efforts were on to resolve the disputed Sir Creek issue with Pakistan.
"The dialogue process is on to resolve the issue with the neighbouring country, but can't tell any time limits," Antony told media-persons after inaugurating Remote Operating Station (ROS) of the Coastal Radar Network at Porbandar on Saturday.
Sir Creek is a 98-km disputed territory between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands, which opens up into the Arabian Sea. The Sir Creek divides the Kutch region of Gujarat and the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Antony inaugurated the Gujarat leg of the ROS as part of the coastal radar network, which has been envisaged to provide security cover for the coastline. Earlier in the day, he inaugurated a similar system in Maharashtra.
"With the inauguration of this system, the country will be able to meet any challenges that arise either from outside or within", Antony said.
The system would function round-the-clock to keep a constant vigil on the activities on the sea, he said.
The chain of static sensors project being steered by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) finds its origin in the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers on reforming the national security system post Kargil conflict.
After a detailed inter-ministerial deliberations, it was decided that the ICG would implement the ambitious project, which is divided into two phases.
Phase-I has a detailed vulnerability gap analysis and feasibility. The study was undertaken by the ICG alongwith other stake holders like Indian Navy and the state government.
Accordingly, phase-I was conceptualised for real-time surveillance cover up to 25 nautical miles around the areas of high sensitivity and traffic density along our coast line.
"Porbandar coast is a gateway to India's valuable economic strategic assets and the union government has been taking all possible steps to protect the country's coastline," Antony said during his address.
He said the system would help security agencies keep a close vigil on any movements in the sea.
Bangalore-based Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has set up a chain of remote sensor stations along India's coastline as part of the coastal Radar Network, static sensors such as Radars VHF Communications systems, Electro Optic Sensors and meteorological sensors are installed at these remote sensor stations to monitor the coastline.
The system, developed by BEL provides total scalable surveillance solution, the system presents the complete surveillance scenario on digital maps at a centralised command centre, where the information is processed and archived, a release issued by the Defence Ministry said.
It further said that the system could also be used as an aid for search and rescue operations. The control centres provide the operator with all the required capabilities to remotely control the sensors on the network, present the tactical situation assessment picture, support mission planning such as interception, search and rescue and meet any user specific requirements.
"The project of chain of static sensors is the first of its kind, both in terms of expanse and strategic implications. Despite the inherent complexities of the project involving multi agency coordination at all levels, the project is nearing completion within the stipulated time line," Antony said.
"The project, when implemented completely, would provide the much-needed electronic eye to our maritime agencies and provide the envisaged impetus to the overall coastal security apparatus," he said.
"Upon completion of the phase-I, it is planned to take up phase-II of the project, wherein 38 additional Remote Radar Sites would be established, 21 sites of the VTMS Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Kahambat would also be integrated during the Phase-II," he added.
According to Antony, during the phase-II, the static radar chain was also proposed to be supplemented by eight mobile surveillance systems. Upon integration of the phase-I and phase-II the chain of static sensors would provide near gap free electronic surveillance of the entire Indian coast line up to 25 nautical miles from the coast.
On the issue of Indian fishermen being caught by the
Pakistani marine agencies, Antony said the Centre had always been alert to provide security to fishermen and happy about the state government's co-operation.
"The union government has always been taking care to protect the fishermen and after the inauguration of the system, our security agencies will be more able to keep close vigil on the sea," he said.
However, Antony refused to reply when he was asked about the reported promotions of defence officials on fake documents.