In view of incidents wherein 91 Indian crew members had been held hostage over last three years by Somali pirates, the government has firmed up a contingency plan for dealing with piracy and hijacking of merchant ships, Parliament was informed today.
It has constituted a Committee of Secretaries on Anti- Piracy and Hijacking at sea (COSAPH) under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary for crisis management and to advise the government on major policy and strategy decisions.
According to an official data, 91 people had been held hostage by the Somali pirates of which 89 have been released.
“To deal with the hostage situation arising out of the hijacking at sea of merchant vessels with Indian crew, an Inter-Ministerial Group was set up by the Government under the Ministry of Shipping,” Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
The government has also initiated numerous steps to tackle and mitigate security measures to deal with sea-piracy.
Guidelines for anti-piracy measures will be implemented on Indian Ships, they provide for elaborate anti-piracy measures (Best Management Practices), including safe house for vessels.
Banning of sailing vessels to ply in waters south or west of the line joining Salalah and Male. Naval escort provided by Indian naval ships in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.
Meanwhile, the government has approved a new Central Sector Scheme for providing support to Major Ports for creation of infrastructure to promote coastal shipping.
“Financial assistance is given under the Scheme in the form of grant-in-aid for construction or upgradation of coastal berths and capital dredging for deepening of coastal berths and navigational channels,” the minister said.
In addition, priority in berthing as well as discount on port charges are provided for coastal vessels in Major Ports.
“In major ports in the last 2 years (2012-13 and 2013-14), 26 projects were awarded under PPP mode entailing an investment of Rs 15,483.60 crore,” he said.