Coast Guard saves one life every second day: D-G

New Delhi


The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) conducted 300 search and rescue missions, saving around 1,000 lives at sea, and also 27 medical evacuation operations this year, said ICG Director-General K. Natarajan, here on Wednesday.

Being the nodal agency for maritime search and rescue, since inception the ICG has saved 9,672 lives by coordinating 3,180 search and rescue missions, which included 2,479 air sorties and 3,540 ship deployments.

It also escorted over 6,000 fishing boats to safe locations during three severe cyclonic storms this year.

"The ICG saves one precious life every second day," said Natarajan while addressing the 18th National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) meet, organised to discuss policy issues, formulate guidelines and procedures and assess the National Search and Rescue Plan's efficacy.

The meeting was also attended by 48 board members from ministries, agencies, coastal states and Union Territories. The Ministry of Shipping, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services were made new permanent members of NMSARB.

Natarajan pointed to ICG initiatives in coordination with others to improve the search and rescue effectiveness in the 4.6 million sq km Indian search and rescue region.

He also highlighted importance of three maritime rescue coordination centres set up by the ICG at Mumbai, Chennai and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the voluntary Indian Ship Reporting System developed to divert the ship nearest to the incident site for immediate search and rescue assistance.

The ICG Director General called for focus on sustainable maritime safety in area of responsibility and regulations governing mandatory carriage of life saving safety equipment, seaworthiness of vessels by fishermen as preventive mechanism, proper training and accounting of the crew onboard.

Speaking at the event, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola emphasised the importance of reducing the divide between aeronautical and maritime search and rescue as about 60 per cent of Indian airspace comprises of ocean areas.

Fisheries Secretary Rajini Sekhri Sibal said over 2.5 lakh boats with around 38 lakh fishermen were engaged in fishing, which required frequent search and rescue assistance.

The Fisheries Department officials from West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka also attended the meeting. IANS