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Maritime Security Adviser plans in right direction: Antony

Defence Minister A K Antony comes out with Navy Chief Nirma Verma after addressing the Navy Commanders' Conference in New Delhi on Thursday. Image Credit: PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indicating that the government was positive on having a Maritime Security Adviser (MSA), Defence Minister A K Antony has sought a proactive role for the Navy in maintaining a strong coastal security apparatus and achieving jointness among all sea-faring and enforcement agencies to prevent a Mumbai-type terror attack.

"We are moving in the right direction (on having a MSA). I am personally monitoring it. So are the Cabinet Secretary and Home Ministry. All of us are jointly doing it," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Navy Commanders Conference here on Thursday.

Earlier, inaugurating the conference, Antony said last year's terror attacks on Mumbai were "grim reminders of the mischief that can be perpetrated by the sea-route" and noted that the government had initiated numerous measures to enhance coastal security.

"The Navy, assisted by the Coast Guard and other stakeholders in the maritime domain are playing a proactive role to bring about synergy and establish Standard Operating Procedures in coordination with the state governments and other stakeholders," he said.

Listing anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden as a focus area for the Navy, the Defence Minister said the issue had become "a matter of concern" for international shipping traffic, even as he complimented the Navy for its bold, affirmative action in deterring piracy attempts.

On the terror threat through the sea-route, Antony said the Navy had conducted exercises with the active involvement of all concerned agencies to carry out a vulnerability assessment and stressed the need for sustaining the effort.

To reporters' query on the marine police, he said the concept was new, but emphasised the need for all coastal states to have a separate marine police wing.

"All coastal states should strengthen the marine police. The Navy and Coast Guard will provide them training.

It is a new force and they need all support," he said.

On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's warning of a possible terror threat, the Defence Minister said the former got information from various sources on security challenges the nation faced and that his observation was based on those intelligence inputs.

Antony said the armed forces regularly reviewed their preparedness and the government had given support to strengthening the military whenever needed.

"Our armed forces are ever ready to meet challenges to national security. With regard to the Navy, they are now in the process of equipping themselves. They are in a better position now to meet the challenges (of coastal security)," he said, assuring that the Navy had made all arrangements to meet the challenges from any quarters.

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