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Nod for scheme to strengthen maritime security

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 28. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today approved a Rs. 742-crore scheme to strengthen maritime security by enhancing patrolling and surveillance in coastal areas.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said the scheme would have two parts. Under the first part, it was proposed to have maritime police stations, especially to deal with maritime offences along the coast. Under the second part, it was proposed to strengthen the Coast Guard.

The maritime police stations, estimated to cost Rs. 400 crores, are expected to come up over five years, with a recurring expenditure of Rs. 111 crores.

For strengthening the Coast Guard, additional boats would be acquired at a cost of Rs. 342 crores, with a recurring expenditure of Rs. 26 crores. The scheme aims to provide a three-layered protection of the coastal areas.

While protection of the high seas is vested with the Indian Navy, the area between 10 and 30 nautical miles from the shore is under the charge of the Coast Guard and from shore to five nautical miles with the coastal police as well as the Coast Guard.

The meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, also reviewed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and in the naxalite-affected areas. The Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, briefed the meeting on the situation prevailing in these areas and the steps taken to tackle it, Mr. Mukherjee said.

It was decided to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Navy of Thailand for joint patrolling, if required, of the maritime areas of the two countries.

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