New Delhi: The Indian government is to ban fishing near sensitive facilities as part of an ongoing major security upgrade spurred by last year’s attacks on Mumbai by Islamic militants, an official said Thursday.
No-fishing zones will be created along 7,500 kilometres of designated coastal zones to protect “important” government facilities such as nuclear plants, ports and dams, the senior home ministry official said.
“In the first step, no fishing will be permitted within 500 metres (1,650 feet) of four nuclear installations in Tamil Nadu state and one in Mumbai,” he added.
Weaknesses were exposed in India’s coastal security last November when 10 Islamist gunmen came by sea from Pakistan and attacked Mumbai, killing 166 people.
The official, who asked not to be named, said the decision was made on Wednesday during a high level security meeting involving the home ministry, the coast guard and the Indian navy.
The western state of Gujarat had also been advised to set up similar no-fishing zones around two dams and several other vital installations in the coastal region, he added.
A similar advisory will also be sent to prevent possible infiltration by remnants of Sri Lanka’s decimated Tamil Tiger separatist guerrillas from across a narrow strip of sea into the southern state of Tamil Nadu, he added.
“This concept of no-fishing zones will be further expanded,” he said.
Following the carnage in Mumbai, the federal government put in place a new coastal command centre and has earmarked Rs60 billion($1.25 billion) to acquire interceptor boats, helicopters, radar and weapons.
The United States has already offered to lease 12 maritime helicopters while Russia, Israel and France are in the race to supply other hardware to the Indian coast guard.