Sunderbans Delta Under Navy’s Tight Surveillance


Kolkata:  The Navy is increasing surveillance over the remote islands in the Sundarbans and has asked all fishermen to install AIS tracking device in their vessels without which they will be treated as suspicious.

“All boats, trawlers and ships have been instructed to install the Automatic Identification System (AIS) through which we can establish their identity at the click of a button on our software,” said Commodore Suprobho K De, Naval Officer-in-charge (West Bengal).

The tracking device transmits data related to the ship or boat back to the Navy. “Through satellites, images from aircraft and other vessels, we track the movement of ships. Whenever we are unable to trace them through the AIS, it becomes suspicious for us but that doesn’t mean we seize it. We just go there and investigate if everything is fine or not,” De told reporters.

Fishing crew are also supposed to be carrying their identity cards and biometric cards whenever they are in the sea.

De said with the help of two softwares – Trigun and Avgaah, the Navy are able to screen ships virtually by knowing crucial data like its latitude, longitude position, nationality of the crew, last and next port of call.

The Navy has also prepared a digital mapping of coastal villages on a GIS (Geographic Information System) platform. “Besides national security issues, the data will also help us in case of any calamity where we have to do search and rescue operations,” the naval officer said.

West Bengal has a 260-km-long coastline. In the Sundarbans delta, there are 102 islands, out of which 42 are uninhabited.

“There are challenges related to trafficking, smuggling of drugs and cattle and unregulated fishing,” De said.

Although Navy is increasing its aerial surveillance in coastal areas, there are no plans of having UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in Kolkata, he said.