A view of the lagoon at Minicoy Island in the union territory of Lakshadweep, where a new coast guard station was established today.
The lighthouse at Minicoy. Such lighthouses, all along India's 7600 km coastline, are being used for housing an all-new coastal security surveillance network.
A map of the Lakshadweep chain, showing the Nine Degree Channel north of Minicoy
Defence Minister AK Antony inaugurating the Coast Guard station at Minicoy
Today, Defence Minister AK Antony inaugurated a new Coast Guard Station at one of India's most picturesque and remote corners: Minicoy, an island in the Lakshadweep chain, in the Arabian Sea. He also established a new Coast Guard District Headquarters (No 12) on the island of Kavaratti. So far, the Coast Guard District Headquarters (No 4) at Kochi was managing coastal security for Lakshadweep.
Minicoy, which is the northernmost island of the Maldives chain, became a part of Lakshadweep (Laccadive) islands in the 16th century. In appearance, lifestyle and culture, the residents of Minicoy are almost identical to the people of Maldives. Ownership of Minicoy gives India command of the Nine Degree Channel --- a 200 kilometer wide, 8500 feet deep stretch of water --- through which much of the shipping between West Asia and South East Asia must transit.
Extracts from the MoD press release are posted below:
LAST OUTPOST IN ARABIAN SEA, MINICOY, GETS COASTAL SURVEILLANCE SET UP
New Delhi: Pausha 03, 1932
December 24, 2010
The last outpost of the country in the Arabian Sea, Minicoy, got its coastal security surveillance apparatus when the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, on his maiden visit to this part of the country, inaugurated the Coast Guard Station at an impressive function here today. He also concurrently established a new Coast Guard District Headquarters for Lakshadweep at Kavaratti. The set up at Kavaratti has been named District headquarters No 12 and it will have operational control over a number of ships and aircraft such as Hovercrafts, Fast Patrol Vessels, Interceptor Boats, Helicopter and Fixed Wing Aircraft on the commissioning of planned stations. All the operational platforms are equipped with modern surveillance systems, sensors, weapons and communication equipment to maintain round-the-clock vigil at sea.
The two new establishments in the strategically located islands will provide the much needed teeth to Coast Guard operations and enhance safety and security of Lakshadweep Islands. They would also facilitate greater synergy between Coast Guard, administration of Lakshadweep and other agencies.
The Indian Coast Guard also plans to set up another Coast Guard Station at Androth next year and an air enclave at Minicoy in 2012. Six radar stations of the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) are also being established in the Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands.
Shri Antony said, the commissioning of the much needed Coast Guard Station at Minicoy has a special relevance due to its proximity to two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Since the nearest Coast Guard ships and aircraft were based at Kochi, a need for Coast Guard station with a forward airbase at this location was always felt. He said our aim is to create a real-time coastal surveillance system that can be controlled even from remote locations.
Earlier inaugurating the Coast Guard Headquarters at Kavaratti, Shri Antony said, after the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to entrust Coast Guard with the responsibility of coastal security, the organization is in the process of enhancing its surveillance capabilities to perform its tasks effectively. The present force levels and manpower are projected to be doubled through phased procurement, with a proportionate development of infrastructure and augmentation of manpower, he said.
Urging the Coast Guard to involve the local populace in coastal security, Shri Antony said the involvement of fishermen to act as eyes and ears need not be over-emphasised.
Shri Antony was accompanied by the Member of Parliament Shri Hamdulla Sayeed, the Defence Secretary Shri Pradeep Kumar, FOC-in-C (South) Vice Admiral KN Sushil, DG Coast Guard Vice Admiral Anil Chopra and the Administrator of Lakshadweep Shri JK Dadoo.