In the wake of recent incident involving a Pakistani boat off the Gujarat coast, a high-level meeting has been convened next week to discuss strengthening of maritime and coastal security against threats from sea.The National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, will meet on January 15 to discuss how to monitor movement of boats and ships in the seas and chalk out strategies to detect suspicious vessels related to terror and smuggling.The meeting will also discuss how to deal with crimes committed in international waters — beyond territorial waters — monitoring of small boats and fishing trawlers and installation of transponders in boats and vessels, according to official sources.Allotment of berthing place on priority for security related vessels and allotment of land for security related buildings in all major and non-major ports, monitoring of landing and navigational points, creation of chain of radars sensors along the coastline will also be discussed.The committee is expected to give guidelines on security of minor and non-operational ports and involvement of state governments in their security. Out of 203 minor ports, 45 are non-operational and 75 minor ports have no security of any kind. Many of these non-operational ports are used as fishing landing points. Responsibility to provide security to non-major ports rests with the state governments or state maritime boards.The members of the committee, set up post-Mumbai attack in November 2008, include secretaries in the Ministries of Home, Defence, Shipping, Petroleum, Agriculture and Fisheries, Navy Chief and Chiefs of Intelligence agencies.The meeting bears significance in view of the incident in Arabian Sea, where a Pakistani boat with four people on board was detected by Coast Guard. While being chased, the boat exploded and sank.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that “circumstantial evidence” indicated that the occupants of the vessel were “suspected or possible terrorists” and that they were in touch with Pakistani maritime officials and army.
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