Challenges of interoperability between various stake holders of ‘Coastal Security’
Source :NewsBharati   Date :05-Jan-2019

DGPs mull over ‘coastline force’

The All India DGPs Conference held at Kevadia ended 25 Dec, the main focus remained on coastal security. A proposal to set up force like The Border Security Force (BSF) to man the coastline was discussed. In the recent past, the Indian Coast Guard had intercepted a ship headed towards Alang and seized 1,500 kg of heroin. In another incident NIA had booked two persons from Mumbai who had planned bomb blasts in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and RDX for the same was to come through Alang seacoast near Bhavnagar. Following inputs from various agencies the Gujarat Maritime Board has decided to review the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for ships coming from foreign countries for dismantling at Alang. Only after clearance from Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Customs a ship is allowed into Alang Ship Breaking Yard. No major terror attacks have taken place in the western region after the 2008 serial blasts. In a conference which was attended by state police chiefs, intelligence and security agency heads and also top officials from the armed forces, it was discussed that funds allocated to states to fight terror should be used in an organised manner.


On the 10th anniversary of 26/11,there were many stories with regard to present status of coastal security. News papers and TV Channels have reported many cases of corruption, inefficiency and dereliction of duty by security agencies .All such reports of investigative journalism should be investigated further and corrective action taken. Some references are as under:- Status of Coastal Security 10 Years After 26/11

After 26/11, A half transformation: Why India's coastal security project remains work in progress Economic Times & many more ---------


Most governmental organizations are loath to share any actionable information with ‘outside’ organizations. This xenophobic attitude is always cloaked under the excuse of ‘compromising security’ and must be shed to overcome challenges and threats of Interoperability. Indian organizations are excessively centralized in their decision making approach. Hence interaction with each other is normally done at a very senior level, implying that juniors are either incapable or aren't mature enough to communicate with specialist counterparts in other institutions. This needs to be overcome so that decentralization of communication processes to ensure near real time exchange of information at appropriate levels takes place. The turf wars between various Governmental organizations are the bane of Interoperability & coordination.


Threats to coastal security are asymmetric- Non-traditional threats require non-traditional responses from security agencies. These are human smuggling, illegal fishing, narco-terrorism, sea-borne terrorism , cross-border infiltration, smuggling, of arms &ammunition for Maoists. Bangladeshis are increasingly exploiting the sea route to enter India especially in Sunder ban, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

In countering any threat, forewarned is forearmed. Since four years, the Indian government has undertaken a number of proactive measures to restructure coastal security and push the defensive perimeter further away from the coast into the seas.

The aim of this article is to recommend what else should be done to improve Interoperability between various stake holders.


One factor undermining the effectiveness of the coastal security mechanism is differing perceptions among various stakeholders about their roles in ensuring coastal security. Curiously, every agency that is engaged in coastal security feels that the task is an additional responsibility that has been thrust upon it.

For instance, many in the Indian Navy(IN) contend that its principal duty is to defend the country during wars and enhance its blue water capabilities rather than carry out law enforcement duties. Some naval officials also feel that they have been assigned responsibility without power and demand the establishment of a single point authority vested in their service.

In the case of the Indian Coast Guard(ICG), officials earlier thought that their principal mandate includes only search and rescue, aid to navigation and pollution control at sea, not coastal security duties. Likewise, the Marine Police and Customs assert that they do not have the wherewithal and, more importantly, the mindset to perform coastal security duties.

Initially Port trust of India thought that it is responsible only for trade and shipping facilities at 13 major ports.

The Directorate of Light houses and Light ships which controls coastal radar sensors thought that it was responsible only for light houses.

The Indian Customs (Preventive) for prevention of smuggling has its role reduced considerably after opening of economy.

The Intelligence Bureau, RAW come with generic intelligence giving larger than life-size image to terrorists.

Some of the coastal states argue that coastal security should be the responsibility of the Centre since they do not have the resources to raise additional manpower, boats, fuel and other infrastructure required for securing the coasts.

This indifferent attitude towards coastal security percolates down resulting in poor participation in various coastal security coordination meetings and thereby adversely affecting implementation and coordination at the ground level.

India’s maritime security agencies are coming to realise that the coastal security transformation is likely to be a complex and long-drawn affair. With a diversity of challenges and multiplicity of agencies involved, a ‘business as usual’ model is unlikely to succeed. Not only do the deficiencies that plague the system require co-operation, co-ordination and an alignment of vision, but also a unity of endeavour.

The Academic Debate Must Stop .All Agencies On The Coast Must Be Made To Understand That All Stake Holders Are Responsible For Coastal Security.


Audit Scrutiny revealed that there were instances of lack of consensus on certain issues between the IN and ICG.

There have been command and control issues in coastal patrolling in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Also, there was wastage of time in liaison with ANC for issuing sailing orders to ICG ships, non-provision of fuel to ICG aircrafts resulting in cancellation of air sorties, non-availability of ANC airfield for ICG operations, non-clearance of ICG aircraft sorties and convening of intelligence meetings by HQ ANC disregarding the lead role assigned to ICG by Government.

The need for greater co-ordination between ICG and IN had also been recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence.

Coordination Has Improved

The coordination has improved now.ICG regularly undertook coordinated exercises and operations with the IN and jointly manned the Joint Operations Centres established to coordinate Coastal Security. A few of the examples indicating close synergy and coordination between IN and ICG were:

· ICG units regularly participated in all major exercises conducted by IN .IN ships also participated in the National Search and Rescue Exercise and National Pollution Response Exercise conducted by ICG.

· The ICG conducted coastal security exercises in various states in which a close coordination was maintained with IN along with participation of IN units. Further, during joint coastal security operations, both IN and ICG coordinated tasking of assets and operational synergy.

· In four different ICG – IN coordinated anti-piracy incidents

off Lakshadweep and Minicoy, a total of 121 pirates were apprehended and 71 hostages rescued. The operation was recommended post monsoon on 20 October 2011.

· The sharing of information between IN and ICG was undertaken at operational as well as apex level. The ICG had agreed to provide feed of the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) being set up by ICG to the NC31 network being set up by IN. This would ensure seamless sharing of information among the two organizations.


Multidisciplinary issues also require substantial interagency coordination. Hence a central body for guiding activities, monitoring implementation of policy decisions, and facilitating interagency coordination would be desirable.

The state of coastal security is dependent on the performance of many ministries and departments of state and central government. The IN as a senior service should carry out regular security audit about their performance and point out flaw/weaknesses in conjunction with the ICG , the state police and the intelligence bureau.


With a view to ensure timely implementation of various decisions taken by the Government in respect of coastal security of the country, a ‘National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) against threats from the sea’ under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary has been constituted by the Government.

A Steering Committee for review of coastal security has been constituted in the Ministry under the Chairpersonship of Secretary (Border Management).

As a step towards decentralization, the MHA has issued orders for constitution of State Coastal Security Committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretaries for effective coordination at local level.

Towards further decentralization, the MHA has issued orders for constitution of District Coastal Security Committee under the chairmanship of District Magistrates for effective coordination at local level.


Willingness of anti nationals to sacrifice their lives to achieve their evil designs creates a new dimension of warfare. In this game there will invariably be nasty surprises and we may not always be dealing with rational minds.

There are many stake holders including the mercantile shipping community, the ancillary maritime community, the scientific community comprising, the maritime leisure/tourism community, in our coastal waters.

Good interoperability will strengthen flexibility in catering to rapid changes that may occur during the conduct of operations. These include transition of control from first responder to lead agency, from single-agency to multi-agency operations, and from security to defence operation, with the insertion of additional forces, in a coordinated and mutually supportive manner. Appropriate Rules of Engage (RoE) will govern the use of force, in relation to the threat perceptions and prevailing circumstances.

The glass is more than half full but we still have miles to go to achieve full proof coastal security.