New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The Navy on Tuesday began the largest coastal defence exercise of the Indian coast after a gap of ten years, Defence Ministry said.The exercise named 'Sea Vigil' is a first of its kind. It is being undertaken along the entire 7,516.6 km coastline and exclusive economic zone of India involving all the 13 coastal states and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities. The Ministry said the exercise aims to comprehensively validate the efficacy of the measures taken since 26/11 Mumbai attack and that it would provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weakness. "In the aftermath of 26/11, a whole-of-government approach to maritime security was adopted and a large number of measures were taken by a host of stakeholders."The exercise will certainly help further strengthen the maritime security and in turn national security, said the Ministry"Seaward monitoring during the exercise will entail patrolling off coast, in offshore development areas and off our islands by the Navy and Coast Guard supported by the state Marine Police. Closer coast, strategic assets, ports, Single Point Moorings will be patrolled by designated agencies. It will also entail inputs from technical means, including intelligence sources." The Ministry said that shore-based monitoring will entail enhanced vigil by the state police along the coast, monitoring of fish landing centres by state fisheries departments, as also monitoring of port areas by respective port authorities."The exercise aims to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all states and Union Territories. The exercise will cover a wide frontage covering for the first time the entire coast of India, including island territories. The exercise will also go deeper, being spread over seaward, coastal, and hinterland areas."While smaller exercises are conducted in coastal states on a biannual basis, including combined exercises among adjoining states, the conduct of a security exercise at a national-level is perhaps the first of its kind, said the Ministry, adding it reflects the distance that has been covered since 26/11 and the relative maturing of the organisation for coastal security to take on this large-scale endeavour. All operational assets of the Navy and Coast Guard are participating in the exercise. The conduct of the exercise is also being facilitated by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs, state governments and other agencies.
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