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NMF-IMR CONFERENCE ON MARITIME INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION



Authors :
19 Dec 2014


The National Maritime Foundation (NMF) in collaboration with the Indian Military Review (IMR) hosted a seminar on Strategic Maritime Infrastructure Protection  at  DRDO  Bhavan, New Delhi, on 9th December 2014.

Rahul Middha's photo.

The preliminary opening remarks by the Director NMF, Dr. Vijay Sakhuja aptly encapsulated the importance and timeliness of the seminar by quoting Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan “Seas are no longer a benign medium the threats are real the global common has become vulnerable because of the challenges posed by asymmetric warfare and maritime terrorism and piracy and floating armies.” The quote was additionally supported by pointing out the key drivers to maritime critical infrastructure like ports, harbours, shipping lane, under water sea cables, energy security and the global need to counter  the threats to  critical maritime infrastructure. The key note address was delivered by Vice Admiral Anurag Thapiyal, Director General, Indian Coast Guard, who focused on the strategic maritime infrastructure, and also stressed on the protection of critical infrastructure including the role of private and state players in mitigating the risk in the maritime domain. The term, ‘protection’ was highlighted and the key question was raised as to who is responsible for the protection of the coast? Is it the stake holders or the government, or the combination of the two. Mr RS Bedi, who was also a part of the opening session, gave an insightful view of the industry on coastal security, emphasizing on the use of technology for mitigating the risk.

The panellists included a cross section of specialists including academics, professionals, and the industry experts. The academicians provided a broad based conceptual underpinning to the deliberations, the professionals shared functional insights, and the industry representatives contributed substantially by giving options to policy makers through technological solutions for India’s capacity building in strategic infrastructure protection. 

The theme for the first session was ‘offshore security’ ,which was chaired by Rear Admiral R.M Purandre, Flag Officer Offshore Defense Advisory Group (FODAG). The panellists comprised Mr Phil Renaud from Raytheon, Cdr B. D. Gaur HQ ODAC, Mr H.S Pannu from the Reliance company, Mr R.P Unniyal from the ONGC group and Cdr. Raghavendra Mishra from National Maritime Foundation. The need for India to secure its energy resources was re emphasized, and the stakes involved in offshore security was highlighted. The need to devise a strategy for the future of offshore security was also noted.

The session covered a wide area of offshore security. The speakers brought out key issues ranging from private security agencies to the use of UAV’s for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). The presentations outlined the use of technology by private stakeholders in mitigating the offshore risks. The presentation also provided a conceptual clarity on issues concerning offshore infrastructure protection by focusing on the energy security and the strategic importance of Oilfield Development Areas (ODAS). The speakers with their varied background shed light on the different ways of mitigating energy ‘insecurities’. The session apart from outlining the government’s view on offshore security, also provided  a valuable  insight into the work undertaken by the private stakeholders. Overall, the session helped in bringing forth the challenges India encounters in terms of offshore security.  The need for a collaborative effort by all the stakeholders was a major takeaway.

Rahul Middha's photo.

The second session focused on issues of ‘Coastal Security’. It was  moderated by Inspector General K.R. Nautiyal, DIG Operations, Coast Guard, and the session panellists included Commander Arun Saigal (Retd.), former Deputy Director Naval Operations, DIG AA Hebbaar, Principal Director (Fisheries and Environment), Coast Guard, Ms. Deepika Gupta , Bharat Electronics Limited R&D Divison, Coastal Security Project, Mr. Prince Joseph, Principal Project Director-Integrated Coastal Surveillance Project, NPOL Kochi ,and Dr. O P Dahiya, Associate Fellow, NMF.

It emerged that coastal security is a dynamic process. Focusing on this evolution, the session brought out the various facets of India’s coastal security challenges and the response to these challenges. Apart from providing meaningful insights about the maritime domain, the varied technologies used in mitigating  coastal security were highlighted. The session witnessed the speakers providing theoretical clarity about the critical infrastructure used to tackle the coastal security dilemma. The recent operationalization of Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon was noted.The speakers opined that, though the Government of India has undertaken certain initiatives, yet they are inadequate in the evolving threat scenario. The presentations emphasized on certain imperatives required for conceptualizing coastal infrastructure protection. Featuring among these imperatives is proper legislation that could help in coastal security. While highlighting the voids prevailing in the existing system, the speakers urged that a comprehensive security system that is tolerant to all kinds of threats including spoofing is needed.

Captain Gurpreet Khurana Executive Director NMF, summed up the event in his concluding remarks and acknowledged IMR as the key partner in initiating and organizing this event.

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