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Bureau of Maritime Security on the anvil

December 30, 2008 22:19 IST

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With a view to creating a central command to focus on maritime security in the wake of Mumbai [Images] terror strikes, the Union Shipping Ministry is mulling the formation of a Bureau of Maritime Security, Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu said on Tuesday.

The Ministry would make a proposal soon to the cabinet, which would decide on setting up of this central agency, he told reporters in Chennai on the sidelines of a seminar on maritime security.

"We want this bureau to be on the lines of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, making it a single agency for control and command of maritime security," he said, adding this would help measures including sharing of 'port-to-port' intelligence and others.

Before and after the Mumbai attacks, port security had been under constant review, Baalu said adding special security audit of ports by the Director General of Shipping was also on the cards.

To a question on Indo-Pak commercial shipping trade, Baalu said, "It is a grey area. I don't want to comment on it."

On the seminar, Baalu said, "Maritime security was extensively discussed at the meet where experts and officials from various fields and government departments have made many suggestions including mandatory registration of fishing boats and issuing of ID cards to all fishermen in the country. For this matter, coastal and maritime states should come forward proactively as fishing is a state subject," Baalu said.

All agencies concerned should work together on maritime security issues to ensure "free flow of intelligence," Baalu said.

He also said his ministry had asked Indian Space Research Organisation to design a low-cost tracking device to be used by fishermen.

Further, the ministry had asked for enhanced security arrangements in ports such as more commando personnel, Bomb Disposal Squads and increased security personnel, Baalu said.

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