Security Challenges and their management in Border Areas


To prepare for INTERNAL SECURITY  for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Security Challenges and their management in Border Areas. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Economy syllabus (GS-III.). Security Challenges and their management in Border Areas terms are important from Economy perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


  • India has a land border of over 15,000 kms, which it shares with seven countries (Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Afghanistan).
  • Further, it has a coastline of over 7,500 kms. Thus, it becomes important that we develop capabilities to protect our border areas in varied terrains, with multiple countries with whom we have very different security relationships.
  • In the Indian case, borders are quite complex and almost every type of extreme geography is present at different borders viz. deserts, fertile lands, swampy marshes or tropical evergreen jungles. There is cross border smuggling, the problem of drugs, cattle, humans, artefacts, fake Indian currency note (FICN), etc.


Challenges of Border Security:

Borders are the lines which separate the territories of two or more sovereign nations.  There are three aspect of border in international scenario:

  1. Land borders
  2. Maritime boundaries
  3. Airspace

All these three borders are exploited by the enemy to create instability in the country.


Issues Related to Border Management in India:

  • Porosity of borders: International borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh run through diverse terrain including deserts, marshes, plains and mountains. This porosity of borders facilitates various illegal activities such as smuggling, trafficking of humans, drugs and arms and infiltration.
  • Contested International borders: History of mistrust and constant border skirmishes with Pakistan along line of control (LOC) makes India highly susceptible to cross-border terrorism. Similarly, India’s border with Myanmar is threatened by several insurgent groups that have found sanctuaries in jungles along the border. Political boundary issues of “enclaves and adverse possessions” in Bangladesh have resulted in political sensitivity along the entire eastern border.
  • Inefficiency in Border management: Indian borders continue to be guarded by military and police forces that report to different ministries in the Centre and states, making the border management task arduous and leading to duplication of efforts by the security forces.
  • Lack of critical infrastructure: Critical infrastructure such as observation towers, bunkers, Border Flood Lights etc. are lacking in many border areas which also prevent deployment of hi-tech equipment.
  • Poor intelligence and resource efficiency: Security forces are ill-equipped to handle border management given poor intelligence capabilities and severe resource deficiency.
  • Ethnic conflicts and separatist movements: The situation has worsened due to the changed demographic profile of many Border States and shift in ethnic balance of communities as a result of illegal migration.
  • Over-population in the border areas: Density of population in the border areas at some places is approximately 700-800 persons per square km on the Indian side and about 1,000 persons on the Bangladesh side.
  • Political instability and disorder in its periphery impacts India’s security directly or indirectly. Proxy war between India and Pakistan adds to this security risk.


India’s Land Boundaries Scenario:
  • Bangladesh (4,096 km).
  • China (3,488 km).
  • Pakistan (3,323 km).
  • Nepal (1,751 Km).
  • Myanmar (1,643 Km).
  • Bhutan (699 Km)
  • Afghanistan (106 Km)


India-Pakistan Border:

  • This segment of border is mainly divided into three different parts:
  1. Radcliffe Line  from Gujarat to parts of Jammu district in Jammu and Kashmir (length of 2308).
  2. Line of Control (LOC) runs along the district of Jammu and some portion of Leh.
  3. Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) from NJ 9842 to Indira col.
  • This is spread across extreme climatic conditions given that the boundary runs from the hot Thar Desert in Rajasthan to the cold Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The last two segment of border (LOC and AGPL) are the zone of tension between the forces of two countries. Along with the vulnerability of infiltration by terrorists from other side of border takes place in the region of LOC.
  • The India-Pakistan border does not follow the geographical barrier so it runs through different climatic condition such as from desert, marshes, plains and by the peak of lofty mountain ranges these conditions along the border area has made border very porous in nature which has facilitated the various illegal activity in the region like:
  • Trafficking of drugs (proximity to golden crescent) and arms.
  • Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN)
  • Activities of money laundering are also rampant in this border zone.
  • Presence of Hawala networks.
  • Safe havens for terrorists and secessionist elements.
  • Indus River water sharing issue
  • Along with these illegal activities, the propaganda front which is used by Pakistan to erode the trust of people living in border areas towards the Indian government.
  • Increased instability in the region of Jammu and Kashmir due to money and material support from Pakistan gave rise to the secessionist militants in the border region.


Challenges along Indo-Pak Border:
  • Border dispute at Sir Creek and Kashmir.
  • River water sharing issue at Indus river.
  • Infiltration and Cross-border terrorism. targeted to destabilize India. Recently BSF detected a fifth (since 2012) cross- border tunnel in the forest area of Jammu.
  • Diverse terrain including desert, marshes, snow-capped mountain and plains makes border guarding difficult.
  • Time & cost overruns in infrastructure projects due to unforeseen. circumstances& natural calamities.
  • Other issues include drug smuggling, fake currency, arms trafficking.


Recent government initiatives:
  • Following Pathankot terrorist attack, MHA sanctioned implementation Comprehensive Management System (CIBMS) to establish an integrated security system at borders providing all round security even in adverse climatic conditions.
  • The Centre has decided to deploy Indian special forces unit National Security Guard (NSG) fortify counter terror operations by Commandos in J&K to training J&K police and other paramilitary forces in room intervention, anti-terror skills, overseeing anti-hijack operations etc.


Indo-China Border:

  • India and China share a 3,500 km long boundary. Unfortunately, the entire boundary is disputed. The line, which delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon.
  • India and china border can be divided into three partse. western sector, central sector and eastern sector. The line which separates the India and China is McMahon line however china recognizes McMahon line as illegal.
  • Present demarcation is informal cease-fire line between the India and China after the 1962 conflict until 1993, when officially recognized as ‘line of Actual control’ in a bilateral agreement between Indian and china.


Tension over the areas:
  • Region of Aksai chin is claimed by India and occupied by china and some Indian territory which is seceded by Pakistan to china in Kashmir.
  • Claim of china over the region of Arunachal Pradesh (under its cartographic aggression)
  • Main conflict between India and china will be the issue of eastern sector of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The attempt by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to escalate tension in the tri junction of the India-China Middle Sector of the boundary at Doklam is a new development.
  • China’s renewed aggression in Ladakh where both sides lost army personnel. China also raised objection over changed status of Ladakh as union territory.
  • Large scale smuggling of Chinese electronic and other consumer goods.
  • Inadequate infrastructure due to difficult terrain.
  • Multiple forces along Indian border (for example, ITBP, Assam rifles, Special frontier force) as opposed to single PLA commander on Chinese side.
  • Water sharing issue as China is building dams on its side reducing water flows on our side.


Recent Government Initiatives:
  • Creating infrastructure: India is also constructing some critical bridges to cut down time for troop movement such as Dhola – Sadiya bridge.
  • India has joined hands with Japan to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in North east to contain China.
  • Army infrastructure projects within 100 Km of LAC have been exempted from forest clearance.
  • To expedite border road construction, Ministry of Defence has decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
  • Creation of Chief of Defence staff (CDS).


India and Bangladesh Border:
  • Basis of border is ‘Bengal Boundary commission’. This boundary does not follow the natural barrier which is associated with river valley and meandering rivers make this border extremely porous and with many disputed pockets.
  • India and Bangladesh share 7 km. of the border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbors. It shares the borders with the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. 
  • There exist also such areas which are Undermarketed stretches and also existence of enclaves (Chhitmohols) are source of constant conflict.


Mains challenges between India and Bangladesh border:
  • Illegal migration – Since the 1971 war of independence that created the state of Bangladesh, millions of Bangladeshi immigrants (the vast majority of them illegal) have poured into India.
  • Rohingya crisis (religious persecution) has also added to it as 40,000 Rohingya refugees were estimated in India in 2017.
  • Inadequate border fencing due to issues such as riverine areas, protests by residing population, pending land acquisition etc.
  • Trafficking of Narcotics and goods – like jamdani sarees, rice salt etc. as well as cattle smuggling.
  • Cattle and Arms Smuggling – It’s a big unique problem with this border. It is said that if India restricts this supply then it can starve Bangladeshis of food. Cattle from as far as Haryana, UP, Bihar is taken to borders for grazing and then smuggled to Bangladesh. Bangladesh also imposes custom duty on these imports.
  • Threat from Bangladesh assumes serious dimensions since it became a base for northeast insurgent groups like ULFA and Naga factions.
  • Due poverty and porous border nefarious activities along the border are flourishing.
  • Various river sharing dispute between India and Bangladesh – Feni River, Teesta river, construction of Dam by India on Barak river.
  • Fake Indian Currency Notes
  • Organized crime.


Recent Government Initiatives:
  • India Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 2015.
  • Government has announced the establishment of Border Protection Grid (BPG) with Indo- Bangladesh Border States.
  • A crime-free stretch has been established between the BSF border posts at Gunarmath and Kalyani and the BGB (Border Guards Bangladesh) border posts at Putkhali and Daulatpur.
  • Installation of Border surveillance devices such as closed-circuit cameras, search- lights, thermal imaging devices and drones to keep a tight vigil.
  • The BSF and BGB have also been raising awareness among the locals regarding crime prevention in the border area.
  • Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) – aims to synergize the efforts of both the Border Guarding Forces for checking cross border illegal activities and crimes as well as for maintenance of peace and tranquility along the India-Bangladesh border.


Indo-Nepal Border:
  • Himalayan country shares about 1700 Kms border with India across five Indian States – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim. An estimated 6 million Nepalese live and work in India.
  • Indo-Nepal border is governed under Sagauli Treaty 1816.
  • India and Nepal have shared an open border since 1950. The conception of such a border can be found in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship that the two countries signed that year. Provisions in the treaty, wherein citizens of both countries are given equal rights in matters of residence, acquisition of property, employment and movement in each other’s territory, provide for an open border between the two countries.
  • Free movement of people across the border and strong people to people tie-up. This base of this good relationship is due friendship treaty of 1950.
  • Open border has been a great facilitator of strong and unique bilateral relations. At the same time, it has given rise to many irritants and problems that raise serious concerns. Allegations of excesses such as intimidation and forcible grabbing of land by either side along the disputed border also surface from time to time.
  • There are dispute over the some areas due to shifting course of Himalayan rivere. Kalapani and Susta disputes.
  • Many terrorist organisations and Naxalites have fully exploited open borders with Nepal.
  • Open border with Nepal facilitated movement of terrorists and insurgents which created instability in the country fueling the separatist movement in Kashmir and insurgency problem in north-east.
  • Many criminals from both sides escape the countries.
  • ISI and other terrorist’s organizations are using Nepal as a transit route and operate from the soil of Nepal.


Recent Government Initiatives:
  • Establishment of a new intelligence section in SSB at Indo-Nepal and Indo- Bhutan border to ensure better operational efficiency.
  • Establishment of Border District Coordination Committee at the level of district officials of the two countries to discuss issues of mutual concern.
  • The Government of India has approved construction of 1377 km of roads along Nepal border.
  • Development aid to Nepal to prevent human trafficking owing to lack of employment opportunities there
  • 200 bed Nepal Bharat Maitri Emergency and Trauma Centre in Kathmandu.


Indo-Myanmar Border:
  • Myanmar shares a long land border of over 1600 Km with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Four North-Eastern States viz. Arunachal-Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share international boundary with Myanmar. Both countries share a heritage of religious, linguistic and ethnic ties.
  • There are only few disputed pockets and boundary is properly demarcated.
  • The difficult terrain and presence of dense forest create hurdle in border guarding.
  • The problem of insurgency and inter-tribal conflicts.
  • No fencing between the boundary of India and Myanmar provides easy safe haven in soils of Myanmar.
  • Close tie between the tribal groups across the border.
  • Free movement Regime: Insurgents are misusing FMR to cross-over to Myanmar and receive training and acquire arms.
  • Drug trafficking due to proximity to golden triangle.
  • Weak borders as there is practically no physical barrier along the border either in the form of fences or border outposts and roads to ensure strict vigil.
  • Poor Infrastructural facilities at Moreh and Zokhawatar – the two designated points for normal trade and border trade.
  • As north-eastern India is close to the area of “golden triangle” region trafficking of drugs takes place.
  • Smuggling of arms, precious stones and Chinese made items to Indian territories.


Recent government initiatives:
  • 13 new Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) to encourage India’s engagement with SAARC countries along with Thailand and Myanmar. ICP is able to interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce.
  • Indian government along with the government of Myanmar trying to curb these illegal activities in the north-east. Deployment of Assam rifles to this border.
  • Along with the ongoing peace deal in region and effort of Indian army.


Indo- Bhutan Border:
  • India and Bhutan share a about 669 km long boundary. The boundary is demarcated except along the tri-junction with China. The process of demarcation of the India-Bhutan border started in 1961 and was completed in 2006. Like with Nepal, India’s boundary with Bhutan is also an open boundary. Whole boundary is demarcated except the tri-junction with China.
  • The border was peaceful till Indian insurgent groups established camps in the southern districts of Bhutan. This problem has been effectively dealt with during the Bhutanese government’s Operation All Clear, which saw the destruction and uprooting of all insurgent camps in Bhutanese territory.
  • Recently the tri-junction dispute India helped Bhutan to maintain its territorial integrity of Bhutan against Chinese aggression.


Issues with Bhutan Border:
  • Insurgency– Many groups such as Bodo, ULFA etc. sneak into Bhutan for sanctuary despite their army driving them out.
  • Smuggling of goods such as Bhutanese cannabis, liquor and forest products.
  • Free movement of people and vehicle leading to issues such as during the Gorkhaland movement in West Bengal.
  • Open border regime with Bhutan.
  • Hiding place for insurgent of north-east.
  • Event of illegal activities like smuggling also takes place.


Recent government initiatives:
  • Bilateral cooperation – A Secretary level bilateral mechanism in the shape of an India- Bhutan Group on Border Management and Security.
  • Cooperation with their army to prevent sanctuary to insurgents in their soil.
  • Establishing new border posts in Sikkim along the Bhutan frontier near Doklam.
  • The Union environment ministry has given a “general approval” for the diversion of forest land for major border infrastructure projects along the eastern border with Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.




The MHA comprehensive Integrated Border Management system (CIBMS). Key points of CIBMS are:
  • High-tech surveillance devices such as sensors, detectors, cameras, ground-based radar systems, micro-aerostats, lasers etc to provide whole year and around the clock surveillance.
  • Efficient communication network including fibre optics cables and satellite communication.
  • A command and control centre to which data will be transmitted for proper analysis.
  • CIBMS tries to integrating human resources, weapons and high-tech surveillance though all climatic condition which is humanly not possible technology will work as eye and ears of armed forces.


Other ways of securing borders can be:
  • Providing adequate human resource and equipments to the border forces of countries.
  • Building of fences and erecting floodlights.
  • Creating the effective number of check post along the border.
  • Creating the physical infrastructure for movement of forces and logistics i.e. road
  • Night vision technology to the personnel’s serving in border areas.
  • Thermal imaging technique.
  • Tower building for effective eye keeping.
  • Vital in border security is to curb the sources of finance to these illegal groups.
  • The stability of country brings the full utilization of Human resource potential of the country and brings the economic development and peace and prosperity in the country so, border management is a key issue for whole round development of country.


General Issues:
  • Ideally, border management should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs during peacetime.
  • However, the active nature of the LoC and the need to maintain troops close to the LAC in a state of readiness for operations in high altitude areas, have compelled the army to permanently deploy large forces for this task.


G P Bhatnagar has identified the following lacunae:
  1. Deployment of multiple forces in the same area of operations;
  2. Problem aggravates with lack of coordination and synergy between the security management organizations.
  3. Lack of any doctrinal concepts;
  4. Security strategies are designed for a ‘fire-fighting’ approach rather than a ‘fire prevention’ or proactive approach;
  5. Responses of security forces are based on a strategy of ‘reaction and retaliation’ rather than on holistic response to a situation,
  6. All this result into stress and decision-making problems at the functional level; wastage of energy and efforts.


Recommendations For Better Border Management:
  • The principle of ‘Single Point Control’ Or “One-Force-One-Border” principle must be followed if the borders are to be effectively managed. Divided responsibilities never result in effective control
  • The advances in surveillance technology, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, can help to maintain a constant vigil along the LAC and make it possible to reduce physical deployment as and when modern surveillance assets can be provided on a regular basis to the formations deployed forward.
  • Similarly, the availability of a larger number of helicopter units will enhance the quality of aerial surveillance and the ability to move troops to quickly occupy defensive positions when it becomes necessary.
  • The recent nomination of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as the national-level counterinsurgency force should enable the other central para-military forces (CPMFs) like BSF and ITBP to return to their primary role of better border management.
  • It is also recommended that all Para-military forces managing unsettled borders should operate directly under the control of the army.
  • There should be lateral induction from the army to the para-military forces so as to enhance their operational effectiveness.
  • External threats to India’s security are not the only border management issue dealt with at present by the national security apparatus. In recent past, India’s rate of growth has far outpaced that of most of its neighbours and this has generated problems like mass migrations into India.


  • Recently, Government accepted and implemented three important recommendations of Shetkar Committee relating to border Infrastructure.
  • Three recommendations were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio economic development in border areas. They were:
  1. Outsourcing road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode is made mandatory for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.
  2. Introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.
  3. Land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are made part of approval of Detailed Project Report. Work can be awarded only after at least 90% of statutory clearances have been obtained.


Need for Border Infrastructure:
  • Imperative to National security: India’s border is vulnerable to political instability, cultural radicalism and patronage of terrorism arising from the neighbouring countries.
  • Matching Neighbouring countries’ Infrastructure along the border like that of China’s. It laid roads, railway line, and communication network, including fibre optics along the border.
  • For developmental needs and well-being of people living in border areas.
  • Tactical and strategic mobility is impeded by lack of Infrastructure resulting in predictability of operations.
  • For facilitation of legitimate trade and travel along with supervision to control smuggling, trafficking, crime, terrorism and illegal migration can increase.


Limitations in Developing Border Infrastructure:
  • Poor implementation: In 2017, CAG pointed out that of the 73 roads allotted in border areas, only 22 roads were completed by March 2016. Similar was the case with 14 strategic railway lines.
  • Lack of monitoring resulting in defective construction of roads including faulty design, poor riding conditions, inadequate drainage facilities etc.
  • Multiple authorities managing the border: India has Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Border Security Force and Assam Rifles for border management, unlike China which has one command for its security forces managing border, indicating cohesiveness.
  • Lack of unity of command: Management becomes slightly inefficient because in some places the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is responsible and in other places the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is responsible.
  • Staff deficiency and lack of modern equipments: BRO is battling staff deficiency, lacks skilled workforce, too much dependence on local contractors.
  • Lack of adequate allocation of funds for infrastructure, even pointed out by army.


Steps Taken in Recent Times:
  • Border Area Development Programme (BADP): Main objective of the BADP is to meet the special developmental needs and well-being of the people living in areas situated near the International Boundary (IB).
  • Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) which includes 60 projects like construction of roads, schools, primary health centers, helipads, promotion of border tourism etc.
  • Completion of Indo-China Border roads: Of 61 roads planned in 1stphase, 36 have been constructed.
  • Expediting forest clearances: For taking up border infrastructure works, Government accorded General approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
  • Creation of National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL): NHIDCL took over several projects from BRO to address delay in execution.


Role of Technology in addressing Border Management Issues:
  • Upgrading existing system: Technology can be integrated with the existing systems to facilitate better detection and interception by the man behind the machine. At present, border guarding is almost fully dependent on human surveillance. This makes border management a time-consuming and complex task.
  • Checking infiltration: It can be help to detect infiltration via land, underwater, air and tunnels by deploying close circuit television cameras, thermal imagers and night vision devices etc.
  • Facilitate Cross Border Trade: For example: Blockchain technology can help quickly and securely process transactions, it also makes much easier to identify and trace illegitimate trade.
  • Improved Intelligence inputs and Surveillance: through Remote sensing satellites, radar satellites and satellites with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors which are capable of providing day and night All terrain and all-weather inputs.
  • Madhukar Gupta Committee on border protection had recommended the Union Government to strengthen border protection and address vulnerabilities in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border. This led to implementation of CIBMS in 2015.


Way Forward:
  • Dispute resolution– Government should resolve pending border disputes with the neighbouring countries, as they later become matters of national-security threat.
  • No diversion of security forces– The border-guarding force should not be distracted from its principal task and deployed for other internal security duties. For e.g.-ITBP, a force specifically trained for India- China border should not be used in the Naxalite-infested areas.
  • Involvement of army – It is felt that the responsibility for unsettled and disputed borders, such as the LoC in J&K and the LAC on the Indo-Tibetan border, should be that of the Indian Army while the BSF should be responsible for all settled borders.
  • Developing Infrastructure-accelerated development of infrastructure along the border, especially to wean the border population from illegal activities.


  • India has a shoreline of 7,516.6 km which includes 5,422 km of coastline in the mainland and 2,094 km of coastline bordering the islands. There are nine States Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal and four Union Territories viz. Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands situated on the coast.
  • India’s long coast line offerings a variety of security concerns that include landing of arms and explosives at isolated spots on the coast, infiltration/ ex-filtration of anti-national elements, use of the sea and off shore islands for criminal activities, smuggling of consumer and intermediate goods through sea routes etc.
  • Several cases of the smuggling of goods, gold, narcotics, explosives, arms and ammunition as well as the infiltration of terrorists into the country through these coasts have been reported over the years.
  • The smuggling of explosives through the Raigad coast in Maharashtra and their use in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, and the infiltration of the ten Pakistani terrorists through the sea route who carried out the multiple coordinated attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.


 Factors for vulnerability:
  • India’s coasts are characterised by a various range of topography such as creeks, small bays, back waters, rivulets, lagoons, estuaries, swamps, mudflats, as well as hills, rocky outcrops, sandbars, beaches and small islands (inhabited as well as uninhabited).
  • The physical closeness of India’s coasts to politically volatile, economically depressed and unfriendly countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Gulf countries adds to its susceptibility.
  • Unsettled maritime boundaries not only pose grave security challenges but also hinder offshore development.
  • India’s maritime boundaries with Pakistan and Bangladesh are not delineated because of overlapping claims.


Maritime Security & Threats:
  • India faces a number of threats and challenges that created from the sea and which are mainly sub conventional in nature. These threats are:
  1. Maritime terrorism;
  2. Piracy and armed robbery;
  3. Smuggling and trafficking;
  4. Infiltration, illegal migration and refugee influx;
  5. The straying of fishermen beyond the maritime boundary.


Maritime Terrorism:
  • Maritime terrorism is defined as ‘…the undertaking of terrorist acts and actions within the maritime environment, using or against vessels or fixed platforms at sea or in port, or against any one of their passengers or personnel, against coastal facilities or settlements, including tourist resorts, port areas and port towns or cities’.
  • Sea based terrorism is not a new marvel. Nevertheless, according to a RAND terrorism database, sea borne attacks have constituted only two per cent of all international terrorist related events over the last 30 years.


Piracy and Armed Robbery:
  • Piracy and armed robbery pose a major threat to sea navigation. Piracy by definition takes place on the high seas and, therefore, does not fall under the ambit of coastal security. However, in the case of India, the shallow waters of the Sundarbans have been witnessing ‘acts of violence and detention’ by gangs of criminals that are akin to piracy
  • Indian coasts have been vulnerable to smuggling. Gold, electronic goods, narcotics and arms have been smuggled through the sea for a long time.
  • The Gujarat-Maharashtra coast has always been susceptible to smuggling. Physical nearness to the Gulf countries as well as Pakistan, a highly indented shoreline, a well-established criminal network, etc. have favoured wide scale smuggling through these coasts.


Infiltration, Illegal Migration and the Refugee Influx:
  • India’s land boundaries have always been permeable to infiltration by terrorists/militants and large-scale unlawful migration. These large-scale influxes over the decades have resulted in widespread political turmoil in the Border States.


Straying of Fishermen beyond the Maritime Boundary
  • The frequent straying of fishermen into neighbouring country waters has not only jeopardised the safety of the fishermen but has also raised national security concerns.
  • There is a general notion that since some of the maritime boundaries of India are disputed and therefore not clearly demarcated, fisher men inadvertently cross into the waters of neighbouring countries. In reality, however, it has been observed that the fishermen are aware of the maritime boundary but knowingly trespass into the neighbour’s territorial waters for a good catch
  • Trespassing by Indian fisher men in Sri Lankan waters also takes place regularly.


Various Issues Regarding Coastal Security In India
  • Lack of a cooperative mechanism– Many agencies like Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Police and other authorities are tasked with coastal security. Hence the information sharing and coordination is a main problem.
  • Multiplicity of authority– Bureaucratic power struggle has led to multiplicity of authorities from the union, the states as well as private actors. It leads to delay in decision making while security threats require quick decisions.
  • Lack of effective surveillance mechanisms– The government has installed the coastal radar systems, sensors and electronic surveillance systems to secure the coastal areas. Still we are incapable to use technology innovatively in coastal security.
  • Unavailability of necessary infrastructure– The marine police stations are not working effectively due to shortage of manpower and lack of interceptor boats.
  • Lack of suitable training in counterterrorism – Though marine police is tasked with overall coastal security but they are not skilled for counterterrorism.
  • Non-existent of maintenance and operational mechanisms for existing naval assets.



Different Reporting Mechanism for Handling Coastal Security:


1.      Position Reporting Systems

2.      Fishing Vessels and License Information Management

3.      biometric Identity Cards: Issuance of biometric identity cards

4.      Port Vessel Information Management

5.      Static Surveillance: Surveillance radars and Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers


Importance of Coastal Community Participation:
  • Seaside and fishing networks are the biggest constituents of the waterfront security system and are among its center qualities. Powerful association of the tremendous four million solid fishing network, and the bigger beach front network, has the potential to altogether supplement endeavours of the security offices
  • An informal layer of surveillance comprising the fishermen community – created following the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts.
  • By virtue of their role in surveillance and intelligence gathering, the fishermen communities are referred to as the ‘ears and eyes’ of coastal security.
  • These fisher men groups, christened Sagar Suraksha Dal, 49 comprising of trained volunteers who monitor the seas and coastal waters
  • To take the advantage of fisherman community government has started various initiative. Accordingly, steps have been taken to ensure the safety of fishermen, and to prevent the undetected entry of any fishing trawler in the coastal waters:
  • Installed with AIS transponders
  • Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID to vessels
  • Uniform registration system for fishermen registration
  • Colour codes are different for different coastal states
  • Distress Alert Transmitters (DATs) are being provided to fisher men
  • Coastal security helpline numbers 1554 (ICG).



It created following the recommendations of the Nag Chaudhari Committee. The purpose of the committee was to suggest the optimum assets required for anti-smuggling operations as well as recommend ways to curb smuggling through the sea. Once the Indian Coast Guard was formed in 1977, the CMO was merged with the newly created organisation.


Government Initiatives:
The Indian Coast Guard:

The ICG was established on February 1, 1977 on the interim in the naval headquarters, and placed under the ministry of defence (MoD). On August 18, 1978, with the enactment of the Coast Guard Act, the organisation formally came into being as the fourth armed force of India. The Act stipulates that the ICG as an armed force would safeguard the security of the maritime zones of India, and guard its maritime and national interests in such zones.


The Marine Police Force
  • The marine police force was created under the Coastal Security Scheme (CSS) that was launched in 2005. The aim of the CSS was to strengthen infrastructure for patrolling and the surveillance of the coastal areas, particularly the shallow areas close to the coast.
  • Mandated to patrol the territorial waters (12 nautical miles into the sea)


Present Coastal Security System:

There is a multi-tier arrangement for protection and maritime security of the country involving the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police of the coastal States and Union Territories.

  1. The surveillance on the high seas is carried out along the limits of EEZ (exclusive economic zone) by the Navy and the Coast Guard.
  2. In the territorial waters, the Coast Guards protect the Indian interests with vessels and through aerial surveillance.
  3. Close coastal patrolling is done by State Marine Police. The State’s jurisdiction extends up to 12 nautical miles in the shallow territorial waters.


Post ‘26/11’ Initiatives in Coastal Security Architecture

The mind-set that coastal security is not an essential component of national security eventually changed after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.


Multi-Layered Surveillance System:
  • A multi-layered system of surveillance of the country’s maritime domain involving the Indian navy, coast guard, marine police, customs and the fisher men had come into being following the series of measures that were implemented over the years to secure India’ s coasts prior to the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008.


Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of Fishermen
  • Monitoring the movements of thousands of fishermen and their fishing boats/trawlers which venture into the sea every day is essential to ensure fool proof security of India’s coastal areas.
  • Accordingly, steps have been taken to ensure the safety of fishermen, and to prevent the undetected entry of any fishing trawler in the coastal waters.


Coastal Security Scheme:
  • Ministry of Home is executing a comprehensive coastal security scheme (CSS) to strengthen security infrastructure of Marine Police Force.
  • It seeks to strengthen patrolling and surveillance of coastal areas.


Joint Operations Centres:
  • JoC have been set up by the Indian Navy as command and control hubs for coastal security at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair.


Central Marine Police Force (CMPF):
  • Recently, the Union Home minister approved a proposal to set up a Central Marine Police Force to protect sea, coasts, ports and vital institutions with the following rationale:
  • The central marine police force can police water up to 12 nautical miles from the coast and investigate crimes committed in the coastal water.
  • The equipment required for marine policing is completely different from that available in a regular police station (For ex- boats) as well as good coordination with the Coast Guard and Navy.


Way Forward:
  • Use of technologysatellite-guided friend or foe identification system of the Indian Space Research Organisationwith a two-way messaging system in all local languages.
  • Recruit sailors who are about to retire, to man the state maritime police forces.
  • Involvement of Fishermen and coastal communities in the comprehensive coastal security plan as ‘eyes and ears’ of security agencies.
  • Capacity building of the maritime policeforce both in terms of training as well as resources should be done at equivalence with other maritime security agencies like Navy and Coast Guard.
  • Upgradation of coastal security infrastructurewith modern equipment’s and gadgets.
  • There is a suggestion that the Coast Guard, which comes under the Defence Ministry’s jurisdiction, will now be placed under the Union Home Ministryand designated as the National Maritime Police (NMP).


Previous Year Questions:
  1. The north-eastern region of India has been infested with insurgency for a very long time. Analyse the major reasons for the survival of armed insurgency in this region. – 2016
  2. Human rights activists constantly highlight the view that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a draconian act leading to cases of human rights abuses by the security forces. What sections of AFSPA are opposed by the activists? Critically evaluate the requirement with reference to the view held by the Apex Court. – 2015
  3. “The diverse nature of India as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society is not immune to the impact of radicalism which is seen in her neighbourhood’. Discuss along with strategies to be adopted to counter this environment. – 2014
  4. How does illegal trans-border migration pose a threat to India’s security? Discuss the strategies to curb this, bringing out the factors which give impetus to such migration. – 2014