India is fully prepared to protect its long coastal region and secure its maritime interests with round-the-clock surveillance, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan said on Saturday.
"As we operate in a challenging environment, we ensure to maintain all aspects of coastal surveillance because we have a huge coastline of 7,516 km, an exclusive economic zone of two-million square km, thousands of merchant ships and about 240,000 fishing boats at any given time in our region," Admiral Dhowan told reporters at an event.
Admitting that dealing with non-state actors was always a difficult situation, the navy chief said patrolling was already stepped up in the coastal region much before the December 31 incident in which a Pakistani boat laden with explosives blew up when the Indian Coast Guard intercepted it and chased it.
"We have been on a heightened state of alert over the last two months with our units, including warships, aircraft carrier and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) deployed in our waters," Admiral Dhowan said in his inaugural remarks at the second Admiral RL Pereira Memorial Lecture.
The lecture on "Accelerating Technology Change and National Security" was delivered by Arogyaswami Paulraj, emeritus professor at Stanford University in the US.
After the November 26, 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, the navy set up a national command, control and communications and intelligence centre (NC3I) at Gurgaon in Haryana at a cost of Rs.450 crore to beef up surveillance and patrolling.
As an Information Management Analysis Centre (IMAC), the command post with next-generation intelligence system tracks movement of all ships and fishing boats sailing in the waters along the country's long coastline.
"The NC3I, which is integrated with 51 coastal radar stations, including 20 of the navy and 31 of the coast guard, leverages technology to keep our long coastal region under surveillance all the time," Admiral Dhowan said.
Organised by the Bengaluru chapter of the Navy Foundation in association with the state-run defence behemoth Bharat Electronics Ltd., the memorial lecture is held annually in honour of Admiral Pereira, who was the ninth naval chief from 1979 to 1982.