1 Nov : Wary of terror threats from the sea, the Navy has sought a role for itself in the running of new private ports to tackle security challenges.
"By law, as far as the ongoing ports are concerned, we have a naval representative as part of the board of those ports. So this procedure should continue in new private ports also. Now, for private ports, there is no such legislation," Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta told reporters in New Delhi on Friday.
Clarifying that it was not "an enhanced role" that they were seeking, Mehta said the navy was certainly concerned over the security of new ports and naval establishments that already exist near private ports.
"Well, it is not really that we are seeking an enhanced role. Certainly, we are concerned about security," he said on the sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference in New Delhi.
Everybody cannot come and set up shop anywhere, the Navy chief said and added that there should be a certain procedure by which ports should be set up.
"Because there are sensitive naval establishments in the vicinity, you cannot have a port or an airport, for that matter, so close to it," he elaborated.
Pointing out that there was a coordination body that took care of the security issues, Mehta said as far as present ports were concerned, the Navy, under the law, had a representative as part of the board of the ports.
"The same procedure should continue (for private ports too). But in private ports, this legislation is not there. That is the only point that we have mentioned (to the government)," he said.
In August this year, Mehta had mooted a single-window federal agency to tackle security challenges faced by all Ministries handling sea-based activities such as shipping, fisheries, ports, navy and the coast guard.
The apex body idea was aimed at bringing about uniformity and co-ordination among Ministries on all matters of safety and security of maritime assets and for quicker decisions during emergencies, Mehta had said at a seminar on national security.
The federal agency, Mehta had suggested, would provide an organisational structure in which representatives of these ministries sit together to take the required action when there is an emergency.
Emergencies include maritime terrorism from platforms on the sea that could be directed against our assets, both on-shore and off-shore.
"Our coastline can come under a threat and so can assets on sea, such as a hostile takeover of our ships and other assets," Mehta had told the gathering of strategic thinkers.
"As India’s coastline is so huge, our assets on the sea are very vulnerable for infiltration by terrorists who could later join up with inimical forces operating on the sea or land," he had said.
"These low intensity threats are becoming a major problem in today’s environment," he had pointed out, seeking to amend the laws to include a naval representative on private ports’ management boards.