As part of efforts to enhance maritime security, the Centre launched the Rs 132-crore National Automatic Identification System (NAIS), which will ensure effective search and co-ordination besides broadcasting warnings to merchant ships.
Describing the project as the “most important component of coastal surveillance’’ by the Union Government, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan said it would go a long way in enhancing safe navigation along the 7,500-km long Indian coastline.
The minister informed that the NAIS is a set-up connecting 74 AIS sensors installed on lighthouses along the entire coastline. The system will be able to track vessels to a distance of 50 km from the coast. This is intended to help different users like DG Shipping, various ports, Navy and Coast Guard in tracking, surveillance, search and rescue and management of aid to navigation.
AIS has provisions to track small fishing vessels with customised transponders which will be helpful during search and rescue operations.
The Minister with two lakh fishing vessels in operation, his Ministry has approved a pilot project for Directorate General of Lighhouses and Lightships to provide transponders to 1000 such vessels off the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts at an estimated cost of Rs six crore.