The Coast Guard is playing a crucial and important role in expansion of maritime infrastructure, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said on Saturday.
Kumar after inaugurating the biannual and the 10th edition of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX-2022) here on Saturday said the recent rescue of 32 Bangladeshi fishermen highlights the importance of such exercises.
The two-day event, organised by the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board under the theme 'Capacity Building Towards Marine Passenger Safety' would witness 51 participants from National Maritime Search and Rescue stakeholders.
The event would be attended by 24 observers from 16 friendly nations, an official release said here. "SAREX-2022 would validate the Standard Operating Procedures and best practices during the conduct of a Mass Rescue Operation," it said.
The exercise is held at different locations along the coast of the country to simulate and conduct a real time scenario on maritime contingency. "Coast Guard is playing a crucial and important role in expansion of maritime infrastructure and supporting the Government of India project like Sagarmala." Kumar said in the release.
The recent rescue of 32 Bangladeshi fishermen by the Coast Guard gives the necessary background for highlighting the importance of the exercise, he said. On August 23, Coast Guard ship 'Varad' rescued the Bangladeshi fishermen after their boats capized at the Indo-Bangla International Maritime Boundary Line.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard Director General V S Pathania said, "the country's geo-location at the centre stage of the Indian Ocean region and the dense merchant marine and fishing always keep us on guard."
The nodal maritime agency Search and Rescue agency of India and the Coast Guard have saved more than 11,500 lives stranded at sea in the last four decades, he said.
Additional Director General Shipping Sanjay Barar, Joint Secretary (Marine fisheries) Jujjavarapu Balaji, Airport Authority of India, Chennai, Director Sharad Kumar were also present on the occasion.
(With PTI Inputs)