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Unhindered maritime access one of India's primary requirements for development: Defence Minister

NEW DELHI (PTI): India's prosperity is largely linked to its seas and unhindered maritime access is one of the country's primary requirements as it continues its march on the path of development, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.

"We have had a close relationship with seas for a very long time... Our trade, economy, festivals and culture are closely linked with seas to a large extent. However, we have faced a significant number of challenges linked to the seas," he said during his speech at the Investiture Ceremony of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

These challenges have taught us that without ensuring maritime security, it is not possible to create a comprehensive internal and external security framework, the minister said.

"Our security requirements, environmental health and economic development are ensured by keeping India's maritime zones safe, secure and pollution-free. I am really happy to say that the ICG is addressing all these challenges successfully," he noted.

India is very quickly moving on the path of development and unhindered maritime access is one of its primary requirements, he said.

"Our prosperity is largely linked to our seas since we are an arriving maritime power. That is why security and development of not just ourselves but of countries in the entire region is our primary aim," Singh mentioned.

According to the vision of the Indian government, the ICG has been at the forefront in promoting regional cooperation, maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean region, and working with international maritime agencies, he stated.

"I am really happy to say that the ICG's gallant acts to ensure the maritime security has not only affected our region but our neighbourhood too. Each of your successful missions show your efficiency and your effective response," Singh added.

Whether it is the accident involving very large crude carrier New Diamond or container ship X-Press Pearl, the ICG has made a major contribution by firefighting and pollution control response by running Operation Sagar Aaraksha 1 and 2, he said.

"Had you (ICG) not taken timely action, it would caused massive destruction in the Indian Ocean Region," he said.

"The country has received international recognition after the ICG conducted these brave operations. Moreover, the country's position as responsible and capable maritime power has also been strengthened because of it," he added.

In September last year, the ICG had sent its ships and aircraft to conduct firefighting mission and search and rescue mission at New Diamond, which had caught fire around 37 nautical miles off the south-eastern Sri Lankan coast.

In May this year, the ICG deployed its ships and aircraft after a major fire broke out on board merchant vessel X-Press Pearl near the coast of Sri Lankan capital Colombo.


India  Defence  Maritime  

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