Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated the three-day 39th Commanders’ Conference of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
He said, “The growing regional and global trade has brought forth new challenges. Geopolitical tensions and clash of strategic interests have led to traditional security challenges. Terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy are some non-traditional challenges in front of us today. The entire region is being affected by these challenges. Being a responsible maritime power, we have a clear interest to create a rule-based, peaceful and stable environment. Such a rule based environment is essential for both regional and global prosperity. In such a situation, the ICG has a big role to play.”
On the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Singh said, India’s geographical location is crucial from the strategic and economic point of view. “Our long coastline with deep-water ports, a prosperous Exclusive Economic Zone and islands at both ends present a unique position. The IOR accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments. One-third of bulk cargo and more than half of container traffic pass through it. The safety of these sea routes is not only directly connected to our economic interests, but it also establishes India as a Net Security Provider in IOR,” he stated.
Singh stressed on the need to maintain maritime preparedness in the constantly-changing global scenario, terming it as a crucial aspect which safeguards the economic and strategic interests of a nation. He pointed out that there has been a shift in India’s maritime security needs due to the ever-evolving global situation.
Recalling the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Singh said, the incident showed that for a long time the country’s orientation was focused on the security of land borders and not much attention was paid to coastal security.
He lauded the ICG for continuously enhancing its capability in the last few years in line with the Government’s vision and playing a key role in bolstering coastal security. Due to these efforts, the country has not witnessed any terror activity from the sea route since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he said.
He added that keeping in view all aspects such as security, trade, environment and humanitarian assistance, Ministry of Defence has sanctioned a large number of projects, including acquisition of Pollution Control Vessels and mid-term Life Upgradation of Dornier Fleet, to modernise the ICG. He appreciated the ICG’s efforts towards achieving ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
“Today, the manufacturing and servicing/repairing of ships and aircraft of ICG is being done indigenously. The ICG is spending almost 90 per cent of its capital budget on the development of indigenous assets,” he added.