The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has enhanced patrolling and surveillance on the western coast with Mumbai designated as the focal point for Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre for combating piracy and terror attacks in territorial waters.
Interacting with the media, Coast Guard West Region Commander, Inspector General Bhisham Sharma stressed on vigilant ICG monitoring and patrolling the huge coastline for suspicious activities based on the intelligence inputs on threat of narco terrorism via sea route. He pointed out the recent case of large numbers of drug packets washed ashore seized by coastal police in Ratnagiri.
Similar packets were also recovered at Gujarat coast. “Our apprehension is that these might be drug packets which were thrown into sea waters by traffickers out of fear of the coast guard or other agencies. The case is investigated by local Dapoli and Murud police in Ratnagiri,” said IG Sharma.
Achievements and challenges ahead for the coast guard
He shared details of the 12 months achievements by the coast guard and challenges ahead.
The ICG rescued 200 lives at sea in 168 search and rescue Missions during January-December 2023 with 26 medical evacuations and 1,336 rescued in disaster relief. The coast guard also seized seven foreign fishing vessels and arrested 63 foreign fishermen for intruding into Indian exclusive economic zone and territorial waters and seized contraband worth Rs488 crore.
ICG is the fourth largest maritime police force with a fleet of 158 ships, 78 aircraft and 1394 personnel. The ICG operates a fleet of offshore patrol vessels, hovercrafts, pollution response vessels, fast patrol vessels, interceptor boats, droniers, chetak and advanced light helicopters (ALH).
He assured that the ICG personnel were still present in Maldives amid rising tensions between India. “We have not received any directions from the Indian government so the status quo remains. We are placed in Maldives for humanitarian purposes and for Search and rescue purposes,” added IG Sharma.
“The intelligence inputs are shared timely by all our sister agencies, we work on the inputs and on the basis of which bust any anti-India activities happening at the sea and its borders,” he further said.