Lakshadweep being developed as strategic outpost for Navy

Kochi: Navy is planning to develop infrastructure Islands which is being made a strategic outpost, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Naval Command, Vice Admiral SPS Cheema said today.

"The Navy envisions to develop infrastructure at the Lakshadweep islands for a forward operating base. Towards this, Bitra Island has recently been approved by the Union Government to be developed as the fourth Naval detachment," Vice Admiral Cheema told reporters on board INS Tir, the training ship of the navy.

Minicoy, Kavaratti, Androth are the three islands in Lakshadweep which already have naval detachments. Six radars have been set up in Lakshadweep and four in Kerala as part of phase one development of coastal radar chains, the Vice Admiral, who is also the Commander-In-Chief Coastal Defence for this area, said.

"India's economic interest are centred on maritime region and their protection is the responsibility of the Navy. Ninety per cent of trade by volume and 70 per cent by value goes by sea and if such sea lanes are not protected, prosperity of the people will be hindered," he said.On Maritime Infrastructure Development Front, he said a proposal for 500 metres of berth and 25 acres of land at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram and a draft cabinet note for development of 650 acres of reclaimed land along with 2000 metres of berthing space as part of Cochin port's outer harbour expansion plans was under the Defence Ministry's consideration.

Post 26/11, coastal security has become a 'huge responsibility'. "..On one hand we are preparing for larger wars, but we have day-to-day responsibility of combating terrorists and piracy," he said. The fishing community, in the form of 'Kadalora Jagratha Samithis' has been proactive in prompt reporting of any unidentified boats in the area thus proving to be the first and the best line of defence against any coastal security threat, he said.

A combined coastal security exercises, encompassing coastal areas of Kerala, Mahe and Lakshadweep islands was conducted on November 18-19 and an apex level coastal review meeting, co-chaired by the Vice Admiral and Chief Secretary is scheduled on December 17 at Thiruvananthapuram.

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