Coast Guard To Increase Strength For Secure WB Coasts

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Kolkata: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is going to increase its strength in its North East (NE) region covering West Bengal and Odisha coasts, off the Bay of Bengal, by inducting new aerial and sea-borne assets in next couple of years, as its two-day long bi-annual coastal security exercise: “Sagar Kavach” in the deep sea concluded on Wednesday.

ICG Inspector General K S Sheoran (NE) said, “At present we have 15 ships covering the coastlines of West Bengal and Odisha. Two more ships will be added to the fleet either by this year or early next year. We have three Dornier aircrafts operating from the Kolkata airport. A plan has been made to induct another to the fleet soon. At Haldia, we have a floating jetty. A plan is afoot to construct a permanent jetty there also.”

Sources revealed that two helicopters are going to be based at Kolkata airport for ICG in the next five years for coastal surveillance purpose.

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“Sagar Kavach”, an exercise aimed at validating standard operating procedures on command and control, communications and response tactics for the threats emanating from sea, got underway on Tuesday.

“This exercise helps in plugging gaps, if any and learning lessons thus enhancing effectiveness in coastal security,” said Mr Sheoran, who is the NE regional commander. The exercise is of utmost importance to West Bengal in view of its geographical location and prevailing security scenario in the neighbourhood. Since 2009, 18 coastal security exercises have been conducted for West Bengal.

The exercise aimed at checking the efficacy of layered security arrangements— air-surveillance, deep sea patrol by bigger ships of Coast Guard and Navy and close coast patrol by Coast Guard interceptor boats, air cushion vehicles (hovercrafts), boats of marine police, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Customs and forest department.

Participants of the exercise, which was carried out from near Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas upto Digha in East Midnapore, were divided into two teams: Attack (Red) andmDefence (Blue). Attack team acted as anti-national elements whoattempted to infiltrate into Coastal area while Defence teams establi-shed coastal security surveillance.

While the Navy deployed one Dornier aircraft and one ship, the ICG engaged three Dornier aircrafts, one off-shore patrol vessel, four fast interceptor boats among other assets, sources disclosed.

The participating agencies were the central and state security organisations, law enforcement and intelligence agencies— ICG, Indian Navy, Border Security Force, CISF, police, customs, forest and port.