Published June 7, 2016 SOURCE: TNN India is now trying to fast-track long-pending plans to bolster its military presence in island territories on both the western and eastern seaboards to ensure it can keep a hawk-eye on the rapidly-militarising Indian Ocean Region (IOR), as well as protect its huge maritime interests there. After “a naval detachment” (NavDet) was commissioned at Androth Island of Lakshadweep last month, the government has now accorded sanction for 2.18 acres of land for another such NavDet on Bitra island in the same archipelago. “The aim is to first establish military presence in outlying islands through NavDets and then gradually build them up. Navy and Coast Guard units at Kavaratti, Minicoy, Agatti, Androth and other islands are also being progressively upgraded,” said a defence ministry official. The overall plan to bolster maritime and coastal security includes setting up of forward-operating bases (FOBs) at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) and Paradip (Odisha), smaller operational turn-around (OTR) bases at Kamorta, Campbell Bay, Shibpur and Diglipur in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and NavDets at Bitra and and Minicoy islands in Lakshadweep. There is also, of course, the plan to crank up force-levels and infrastructure in the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), the country’s last military outpost, to counter China’s strategic moves in IOR as well as ensure security of sea lanes converging towards the Malacca Strait. Similarly, implementation of the coastal surveillance network scheme is also underway, with 36 radar stations coming up on the mainland, six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy, and four in Andaman and Nicobar in the wake of the 26/11 terror strikes. Phase-II includes radar stations at another 38 sites and eight mobile systems. But the progress has been excruciatingly slow in all such plans. The ANC – the country’s only theatre command with all Army, Navy, IAF and Coast Guard forces under one commander – continues to grapple with woefully inadequate manpower, assets and facilities due to general politico-bureaucratic apathy as well as turf wars among the forces.The detailed project reports for the construction of OTR bases at Kamorta and Campbell Bay, for instance, are still to be prepared. Similarly, the 20 acres of land earmarked for the FOBs at Paradip and Tuticorin are yet to be handed over to the defence establishment. “Consultations between the defence ministry and the shipping ministry are in progress to resolve the issues at Paradip and Tuticorin. Such things do take time with inter-ministerial consultations, environmental clearances, fund allocations and the like. But the objective now is to speed up matters,” said an official. ..http://idrw.org . Read more at India No 1 Defence News Website , Kindly don http://idrw.org/india-seeks-to-snip-string-of-pearls/#more-97778 .