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‘Guardian of the sea' is here to take care of pollution

Staff Reporter

First of its kind in South Asia

— Photo:

SEA CHANGE:Coast Guard vessel Samudra Prahari seen in Mumbai on Saturday.

Mumbai: Maritime security measures moved up a notch in the wake of the recent oil spill off the Mumbai coast as the Coast Guard (CG) got “a state-of-the art” Pollution Control Vessel (PCV), touted to be “the first of its kind in South Asia” in terms of sophistication of technology.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan commissioned the ship ‘Samudra Prahari' or ‘Guardian of the Sea' at a ceremony at the naval dockyard here on Saturday. Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, and Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Director-General, CG, also attended the event.

Congratulating the CG on their response to the oil spill, Mr. Chavan said the collision of MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia had thrown open many questions on maritime security. “Oil spill is a global phenomenon. Mumbai had never seen anything like it earlier. The spill not only closed the channel for trade, but also posed environmental dangers. The new vessel would help tackle these problems,” he said.

Two more PVCs are on the cards, in addition to two Offshore Patrol Vessels and 26 interceptor boats to augment CG's fleet, Mr. Chavan said.

Post 26/11, the State government had taken a number of steps to strengthen coastal security and check infiltration. The recent commissioning of CG stations at Murud Janjira and other stations at Ratnagiri, and roping in the fishing communities to function as the eyes and ears of the State and the CG, were steps towards that direction, Mr. Chavan said.

He affirmed the government's commitment to upgrade infrastructure for the CG. “I am aware that the CG is facing an acute shortage of land for developing its infrastructure. To strengthen the CG, the State government has allotted land at Ratnagiri for the establishment of CG air station, and another station at Dahanu. The State has also committed transfer of 20 acres of land at Marve for this purpose. The government is committed towards strengthening coastal security measures and would facilitate land acquisitions for infrastructure development. ,” Mr. Chavan said.

Vice Admiral Chopra said CG stations would double by 2012. “On an average, more then 20 CG ships are out on the sea. With the threat of terrorism, the role of coastal security has gone up.”“It is essential that pollution control operations are launched immediately. The CG's response to the oil spill was swift and professional. They launched operations in rough weather. The task would have been more effective with a PCV,” he said. Vice Admiral Chopra said ‘Samudra Prahari', like all CG vessels, could be deployed anywhere in India, although it would be based in Mumbai.

The 95-metre PCV was designed and built by Surat-based private shipping company ABG Shipyard Ltd. “The ship is equipped with the most advanced and sophisticated pollution response equipment for mitigating marine oil spills in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone. It is also equipped with the advanced navigational and communication sensors and equipment and is capable of embarking helicopter. [Its tonnage is] 4,300 tonnes. It has an endurance of 6,500 nautical miles and can stay at sea for prolonged duration of up to 20 days without any replenishment,” an official release stated.

‘Samudra Prahari' and the two more PCVs which are to be commissioned are believed to have cost Rs. 20 crore each. Contracts for them were given to ABG five years ago.

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