Centre is considering placing Indian Coast Guard under MHA
The Indian Coast Guard is currently under Ministry of Defence but shifting to Ministry of Home Affairs may help in a number of ways to ensure coastal security.
New Delhi: To enhance the maritime security of the nation, the Centre is considering to give overall responsibility of coastal security to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
As per new proposed changes, Centre may place ICG under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It currently operates under the Defense Ministry.
As per Government sources, there is an operational disconnect between Navy, Coast Guard and the local population, and there is no single centralized force which operates in shallow waters. This is regarded as a major weakness for coastal security.
"There is not a single force which has the capability to simultaneously patrol both land and sea adequately and none was equipped with trained manpower to physically dominate the coastline for preventing intrusion. There is a lack of coordination and liaison between these agencies and the state police during a crisis situation," said an officer who is aware of the development.
Being a functional and well-established force operating in the coastal region, ICG is familiar with operational challenges and threats. Its personnel are well-trained for sea operations and bringing ICG under MHA would lead to better coordination between MoD and MHA in case of war.
At the time of formation, ICG was proposed to be under MHA but was later placed under MOD. ICG is fully familiar with terrain, threats and operational challenges of coastal areas. It will be an ideal force for handling overall responsibility of coastal security. It would also resolve issues of coordination with other central agencies.
"It would lead to optimal allocation of available resources, expanding the mandate of the coast guard by giving its overall responsibility for prevention of intrusion via the sea route, enabling them to operate in shallow water and for collecting intelligence from the local coastal community," said an officer in the central security establishment.
The Centre is also planning to create additional infrastructure to coastal police architecture across all states, provide additional training, manpower, equipment and infrastructure to coastal police and data of all fishermen boat available with fisheries department be available with ICG and coastal police online through CCTNS.
MOD had opposed the changes earlier but many states are now also supporting the Centre for creating one force for all coastal areas.