The coastal security mechanism for the state of West Bengal was put on test during a two days security exercise ‘Sagar Kavach’ conducted on 15th and 16th of Dec. During the exercise, the Coastal Security SOPs for the state were validated through series of drills conducted across the 158 km of coastline of the state. The exercise, which was coordinated by Commander Coast Guard(NE) and DGP Coastal Security saw active participation from 07 state departments, 11 central departments and several coastal industries. The State Coastal Security Op Centre (West Bengal) at Coast Guard DHQ-8, Haldia was the nerve centre for the exercise, which witnessed simulated situations such as hijacking of fishing boats for landing of terrorists, smuggling of contraband, hijacking of ship, planting of IEDs and attacks on port facilities and coastal industries. Besides active sea and river patrolling by Coast Guard, Navy, Police, CISF, BSF and Customs boats, coastal patrolling by district police, fishermen watch group at 43 places was also activated to act as ‘Eyes and Ears’ for security forces. Special operations conducted during exercise included operations by NSG commandos, CISF Commandos and QRTs of Coast Guard and Police. The exercise also witnessed coordinated surveillance by Coast Guard and Naval ships and aircraft and mobilisation of forces by Coast Guard helicopter.
West Bengal has large maritime assets along its 158 km coastline, which include 3.3 lakh fishermen operating over 16000 fishing boats, two major ports, several river ports and jetties and large number of coastal industries. Being a maritime border state with unique riverine geography, the entire coastline is porus and poses a major challenge for security agencies. Therefore, coordination is very important amongst all forces for the seaward security of the state. To address and acknowledge this issue, the mandate was issued by Central and State governments for conducting the exercise jointly so that coordination is maintained amongst all the security forces working under the the central and state governments on issues related with coastal security.
The lessons learnt during the exercise will be deliberated at higher level for further improvements in Coastal Security mechanism and SOPs for the state of West Bengal and strengthen coordination amongst security agencies.