Two years ago, exposed gaping holes in India's maritime and coastal security architecture to unleash the 26/11 strikes in Mumbai. After plugging some gaps, the government is now also considering a comprehensive maritime intelligence network to detect, share and neutralize threats swiftly.
Towards this, Navy has submitted an exhaustive technical blueprint on the integrated national "maritime domain awareness (MDA)" project to all the Union ministries concerned and the 14 coastal states and island territories. This detailed project report also came up for discussion during a meeting of the national committee for strengthening maritime and coastal security, chaired by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, on Tuesday, said sources.
The 262-page blueprint, accessed by TOI, centres around the high-tech National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN), already being set up by Navy as the "main backbone" for the national MDA project. While several components are already in place, with the central hub for NC3IN coming up at Gurgaon for instance, the blueprint says an additional Rs 900 crore in capital expenditure is needed to implement the entire MDA project.
The aim is to generate a "common operational picture" of all ongoing activities at sea through an institutionalised mechanism for collecting, fusing and analysing information from technical and other sources like coastal surveillance network radars, space-based automatic identification systems, vessel traffic management systems (VTMS), fishing vessel registration and fishermen biometric identity databases.
The new MDA proposals include "state monitoring centres" in coastal states/UTs to act as nodes for the national MDA network and upgradation of the four existing joint operations centres at Kochi, Vizag and Port Blair as well as creation of a shipping hub and fisheries monitoring centre. There is also the need to set up VTMS at the 56 non-major ports that handle international traffic. While India's 13 major ports either have or are being equipped with VTMS, except for Port Blair, none of the 200 non-major ports have any identification or surveillance systems. It also calls for a VTMS for the eastern off-shore development areas like the one set up for the western ones.