New Delhi [India], November 25 (ANI): The Indian Coast Guard is to discuss policy issues, formulate guidelines procedures and assess the efficacy of the National Search and Rescue Plan in the day-long 19th National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) meeting scheduled to be held in the national capital on Thursday.
Chairing the annual meet, Indian Coast Guard Director-General and Chairman NMSARB K Natarajan said the meeting is focussed on "improving the mechanism for preserving and protecting the lives mariners out of seas and also properties".
In the apex level Maritime Search and Rescue meeting conducted here in Vigyan Bhavan, Natarajan said the Indian Coast Guard has come a long way and drafted the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Search and Rescue Convention, ratification of orders, regulations, and joined hands with the coastal state authorities as well as the Maritime Fisheries Association, Shipping Ministry and Fisheries Ministry to bring in much more synergy and cooperation to ensure that our fishermen and mariners could be saved out of sea without any loss of time.
"Since its inception in 1978 and being designated as the national coordinating authority for Maritime Search and Rescue in the Indian searching and rescue region of 4.6 million square km with all 31 stakeholders, Natarajan said Indian Coast Guard has rescued 10,000 lives out of sea," Natarajan said.
"In the last year alone, we have rescued about 600 lives by Indian Coast Guard and boutique 1,500 lives were rescued in coordination with other stakeholders associated with search and rescue response mechanism," added the Indian Coast Guard DG.
He also mentioned that the last Search and Rescue meeting was conducted in December 2019. NMSAR Board comprising 31 members from various ministries, agencies, all Coastal States and Union Territories meets annually.
Amongst the dignitaries, Dr Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Min of Ports, Shipping and waterways and Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary, Department of Fisheries graced the inaugural session.
In his inaugural address, the Indian Coast Guard DG highlighted various initiatives of the force in coordination with other stakeholders for improving the Search and Rescue effectiveness within the 4.6 million sq km vast Indian Search and Rescue Region.
He also informed that the Ministry of Defence has accorded Approval-in-Principal for setting up 29 additional Maritime rescues Sub Centres (MRSCs) to augment Search and Rescue services.
The Chairman stated that the Indian Coast Guard has been designated as the Indian implementing agency for Search and Rescue in the Indian Ocean Rim Ocean Association (IORA) by the Government of India.
Further, the Ministry of Defence has also nominated Indian Coast Guard as the nodal Agency for Search and Rescue in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Min of Ports, Shipping and Waterways lauded the role of the NMSAR Board and stated that the Board is a National forum that has been working towards ensuring safe seas for the mariners transiting the Indian Search and Rescue Region and also the fishermen in Indian EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone).
He said that all agencies need to work together under a common umbrella to meet the national goal of providing safe and secure seas around the Indian Peninsula.
Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary, Department of Fisheries, during his address, appreciated the leading role of the Indian Coast Guard in spreading life safety awareness and assistance bestowed to fishermen during recent years.
He said Indian Coast Guard has been partnering with the fishing community through the 'Community Interaction Programmes' conducted regularly in the coastal fishing villages to educate them about the importance of lifesaving appliances and survival skills at sea.
Swain informed that the Ministry of Fisheries has also taken initiatives to support the fishers at sea, by providing safety gear through various Central Government schemes.
Apart from deliberations on various maritime safety issues and identifying areas of improvement of Search and Rescue services, presentations were given by representatives of ISRO, IMD, Gujrat State Fisheries, Tamilnadu State Fisheries and Kerla State Fisheries.
The NMSAR Board recognises the Search and Rescue efforts of merchant mariners, government-owned vessels, ashore units and fishermen every year.
During the ceremony, Search and Rescue awards for the year 2019-20 and 2020-21 were conferred to winners under different categories.
M.V. Navdhenu Purna was awarded the Search and Rescue award for "Merchant Vessel 2019-20" for saving 98 precious lives from various boats during inclement weather at sea and Colonel SP Wahi was awarded the Search and Rescue award for "Merchant Vessel 2019-20" for saving 16 lives from distressed fishing boat Dev Sandesh.
Search and Rescue Award for "Fisherman 2019-20" was awarded to Gilbert Savpedru Netoghar from Maharashtra for saving 11 lives from a distressed fishing boat IFB Laxmi Sai-V. (ANI)