A radar network for coastal security has been operationalized on the mainland, Indian Navy stated while submitting its response to the Bombay High Court in response to a public interest litigation filed by an NGO Association for Aiding Justice.
Setting up of radar sensors on the island territories is also now nearly completed, Indian Navy was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The PIL had sought information on what was being done to avoid incidents such as those in which ships MV Wisdom and MT Pavit entered the coastal area of Mumbai unnoticed in 2011.
The PIL also seeks for implementation of measures supposed to be in place after the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11. In June 2011, MV Wisdom drifted towards Mumbai due to parting of the tow and subsequently grounded off Juhu.
MT Pavit, which had been reported as sunk from the coast of Oman finally ran aground off Mumbai on July 31, 2011.
In its response, the Indian Navy has said that these two incidents need to be seen as issues of maritime safety and “certainly not due to lack of care or responsibility on the part of the Indian Navy”.
The affidavit filed by Rear Admiral Sunil Anand, chief staff officer (personnel), on behalf of the Indian Navy stated “The coastal security network has been planned for the entire coastal line and the island territories of the country.
Threat assessment based on intelligence inputs is regularly undertaken and measures to plug loopholes are initiated. The coastal radar network has been made operational on the mainland. Setting up of radar sensors on the island territories is nearly completed. Gap analysis in the surveillance has been undertaken and additional radars are planned to be installed in phase-II.”
According to the affidavit, the Indian Navy is not responsible for salvaging of ships and is not part of the decision making process in this regard. However, all assistance as requested by the agencies concerned was provided by them.
Regarding steps taken after 26/11, the affidavit further states that a large number of steps have been taken after 26/11 to augment coastal security. The initiatives and implementation of actions for ensuring seamless coastal security are regularly reviewed at the apex level by the defence minister. Also, Sagar Prahari Bal has been constituted for force protection.
“Implementation and coordination issues with different ministries is done by National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security chaired by cabinet secretary and is attended by secretaries of ministries concerned and chief secretaries of all coastal states,” said Anand.
While the petition stated that MV Wisdom floated precariously close to Bandra-Worli Sea link posing a security threat, the Navy has said there was no aspect of security involved and the ship was kept under close surveillance by the Coast Guard. Further, Naval helicopter and Costal Guard Dornier aircraft also monitored the movement of the ship continuously.
With regard to MT Pavit, the petition raised concerns over the vessel entering Mumbai coastal area unnoticed by any agency which posed a serious security lapse. The HC has asked the counsel Dipesh Siroya appearing for the petitioner to take instructions in this matter.