Coast Guard chief AG Thapliyal Friday asserted that coastal security has improved significantly since the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but did not rule out the possibility of another attack from the sea route.
"Fair amount of work has been done (after Mumbai terror attack)... the efforts are ongoing but one cannot rule out the possibility (of terror attack)... as terrorist try out-of-the-box ways," said Vice Admiral Thapliyal, director general Coast Guard. He was addressing a press conference on the eve of the 37th anniversary of Indian Coast Guard Feb 1.
Thapliyal said the government has already spent over Rs.600 crore for setting up the coastal security network and has earmarked another Rs.650 crore for the programme.
Responding to a question on the threat of another 26/11-type attack, he said terrorists had used a 'dinghy' - a small boat - to reach Mumbai shores and the Coast Guard are working to develop a technique to detect boats less than 20 metres in size.
The Mumbai terror attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists in November 2008 left 166 people dead and around 300 injured. "Small boats are a cause for concern and we need to attend to that," Thapliyal said, adding that fishermen communities are being involved to keep track of any unidentified small boats. "These boats, which have engines but can mingle around with fishing boats, they do pose a threat to us. Taking fishermen on board is very important. They tend to fish in groups and are the first ones to spot strangers," the coast guard chief said.
He added that outreach programmes are being conducted to communicate with fishermen, tell them the dos and don'ts, and to "make them realise their responsibilities".
There are more than two lakh fishing boats operating in the country and more than 70,000 of them venture into the sea every day.