Coastal Security - Maritime Dimensions of Indias Homeland Security

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The Constitution tried to bypass that question by placing almost all aspects of sea governance, be they fishing on the high seas, shipping, major harbours, foreign trade, exploration and exploitation of sea based resources etc under the control of the Union Government. The result was that coastal states that were the real stake-holders as also main beneficiaries had practically no role to play in sea governance, not even in matters of intimate concern like marine fishery beyond the narrow limit of territorial waters.

The result was that most of the maritime governance issues, that should have reflected the maritime concerns of India, were allowed to languish by bureaucracy sitting far away in New Delhi. Marine fishery is an area that has been long neglected. Indian fishing, even deep water fishing, has expanded rapidly over the decades.

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Indian fishermen, who operate from fishing harbours and landing sites along the coast and fish in waters beyond the outer limits of the territorial waters, are not governed under any law. Absence of a law facilitated Pakistan-based terrorists to target Mumbai in ; they captured a fishing boat from the Gujarat coast and used it to sail unhindered all the way to Mumbai. Attempts are being made to register Indian fishing boats under a new scheme.

Since the subject shipping comes under the jurisdiction of the Central Government, there are proposals to formulate a common code and the task of registration is to be entrusted to coastal states. The data can be centralised. At best, that can help identify the boat, the place of its registration, owner and may be its crew. But that information alone cannot undo the present-day lawlessness on these waters, or give the enforcement agency the power to intercept and verify the need for presence of the vessel in a given place.

A fishing vessel from Gujarat can still reach the coast of Maharashtra or even Kerala. It must involve coastal states in some aspects of sea governance. Some sort of supervisory role by the coastal states on marine fishery can be a major input in that direction.

Coastal Security: Maritime Dimensions of India's Homeland Security

Since these boats are largely based along the coast — fishing harbour and landing sites — it is easy to monitor their activities and even to regulate them to the extent possible because these boats cannot be operated without the input of facilities like fuel, ice, places for landing of fish, cold storage, canning facilities, repair facilities, dockyards etc. These can be best handled at the level of the coastal states.

A law dealing with fishing by Indian fishermen can not only be a step towards better sea governance but also a step towards combating acts of maritime terrorism and other crimes like smuggling in which these boats are often involved. One can suggest a few following steps that can enhance coastal security without disturbing the present framework of coastal security and with very small financial input.

The first step is to strengthen legal norms.

Latitude - Gaps in India's coastal security

As noted, India has not enacted a law that can permit maritime security agencies like the Coast Guard and the Navy to apprehend suspected terrorists beyond the outer limits of the territorial waters. Secondly, steps need to be taken to enable coastal states to play a more active role in two matters related to coastal security. They are marine fishery and maritime security. That will enable the coastal states to help the Union Government in organising the activities of fisher folk in respective states without in any way limiting the power vested in the Union Government under item 57 of the Union List.


Thirdly, the Constitution does not specify any role in matters of maritime security to coastal states. Its security reach, at best, extends to the outer limit of the territorial waters adjacent to its coast. It is too narrow a sea space given the long reach of contemporary terrorists.

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Also, even a fast fishing boat can cover that distance in an hour leaving little time for effective response. Maritime security concerns of a coastal state do not end with the outer limit of its territorial waters.

It must have some means of at least monitoring the adjacent sea space where its fisher folk also operate and which is not being monitored by its Marine Police. Paul View Commentary. Adarsh Vijay View Issue Brief. Rajesh Soami View Commentary. Padmaja View Issue Brief. Vasan View Commentary. Dinesh Yadav View Commentary. Jyotishman Bhagawati View Issue Brief. Prakash Gopal View Commentary. Padmaja View Commentary. Kapil Narula View Commentary.

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Will India rise to its Maritime Challenge? Comment on C. Sanctions on Iran: A Self-fulfilling Prophesy. What can Japan gain from India - U. S Nuclear Deal? Oil Spill View Commentary. But the Indian Ocean is more than just a conduit for commerce. This creates opportunities, especially given the high rates of economic growth around the Indian Ocean rim, including in India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Indian Ocean region: A pivot for India’s growth

However, the densely populated littoral is also vulnerable to natural or environmental disasters. Two of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory occurred in the Indian Ocean rim: the tsunami that killed , people, and Cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar in and took , lives. Finally, the Indian Ocean is rich in natural resources. Aquaculture in the region has also grown fold since Although global fishing is reaching its natural limitations, the Indian Ocean may be able to sustain increases in production.

Mineral resources are equally important, with nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and iron, and massive sulphide deposits of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold present in sizeable quantities on the sea bed. Indian Ocean coastal sediments are also important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin, zinc, and copper. Additionally, various rare earth elements are present, even if their extraction is not always commercially feasible.

The challenges of securing the free passage of trade and energy, ensuring the sustainable and equitable exploitation of fishing and mineral resources, and managing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief HADR operations would be daunting enough even if the Indian Ocean was not so contested. Beginning in , pirates operating mostly from Somalia began to hijack commercial ships with alarming regularity, with such incidents peaking in Following global attention and the growing notoriety of Somali piracy, a series of steps were taken by industry and various governments.

These included naval operations, transnational coordination, and security measures taken by the shipping industry. These developments resulted in a sharp drop in incidents in With an eye on securing trade routes, resource rights, and commercial interests, the naval forces of maritime states in the Indian Ocean region and beyond are becoming increasingly active. Moreover, India is heavily dependent on the resources of the Indian Ocean.

India captured 4. Mineral resource extraction is also important.