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Let’s Purify this Water Too
Kill Corruption Within The Coast Guard to Kill Terrorism and Smuggling
Issue Date - 17/02/2011
There are three primary reasons for which water transport systems are of national security priority for the only country in the world that has an ocean to its name. Firstly, India has a long coastline that spans 7500 km with 12 major ports and 180 minor ports surrounding the border. Thus, inland or outward water routes can be cheaper and better alternatives to land or air. Secondly, about 95% of trade by volume and 77% by value (Rs.10 trillion in 2007) happen through sea. Then again, it is impossible to ignore the tremendous wealth that the ocean holds, including fishing, minerals and oil & gas resources. Thirdly, and this is scary, the sea route has become an easier alternative to land for terror infiltration.

There are reports that weapons including RDX were brought through Shekhadi coast near Shrivardhan, Maharashtra, which were later used to carry out the serial blasts in 1993. There were also reports that LeT tried unsuccessfully to use sea routes to send eight terrorists in 2007 from Karachi to Mumbai. Even terrorists for the 26/11 attacks entered India through sea. Simply increasing coast guard personnel is no solution – it is alleged that corruption within this very coast guard community is the prime reason terrorists and smugglers find it so easy to enter India. Resolving this corrupt culture is key to protecting India.

On another front, sadly, inland water transport plays only a very minor role in India’s transport despite India having an over 14,500 km span of navigable waterways. The annual cargo transport only has a 0.15% share of total cargo movement in India. At the same time, piracy has become a threat to India’s sea trade, especially due to Somali pirates near the Gulf of Aden. Globally, incidents of piracy have increased over time, from just 51 in 2007 to 111 in 2008 and 217 in 2009.

It’s rare for media agencies to write about India’s coastal regions – and the fact that we’re doing so, should mean something critical is amiss.


IIPM Think Tank           

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