New Delhi: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) organised the 18th National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss policy issues, formulate guidelines & procedures and assess the efficacy of National Search and Rescue Plan. The apex-level meeting was chaired by DG Indian Coast Guard and Chairman NMSARB K Natarajan and attended by 48 Board members from various ministries, agencies, all coastal states & UTs.
For the first time, three strong components of the M-SAR – Secretary (Ministry of Shipping), Secretary (Ministry of Civil Aviation) and Secretary (Department of Fisheries) participated in the annual meeting. Delivering the keynote address, Secretary (Shipping) Gopal Krishna complimented ICG and NMSARB members for their exemplary coordination which resulted in the incorporation of various ingenious measures to improve the SAR mechanism. He stressed upon the need to harmonise the Maritime-Air SAR system.
Secretary (Civil Aviation) Pradeep Singh Kharola spoke the importance of reducing the divide between Aeronautical & Maritime SAR as about 60 per cent of Indian airspace comprises of ocean areas. Secretary (Fisheries) Rajini Sekhri Sibal said, 2.5 lakh fishing boats with about 38 lakh fishermen are engaged in fishing which requires frequent SAR assistance. She complemented ICG for having a robust SAR mechanism in place.
SAR (Search and Rescue) Award for Fisherman was awarded to Anand A Ambhire from Maharashtra for saving 11 lives from a sinking fishing boat. SAR Award for Government-Owned SAR Unit was awarded jointly to Indian Coast Guard Ships Sujoy and Vikram for saving 46 lives from ROSV Sagar Sampada off New Mangalore. MV Asia Emerald III award for 2018-19 was awarded the SAR Award for Merchant Vessel for saving 06 lives from a distressed fishing boat.
Indian Coast Guard is the nodal agency for Maritime Search and Rescue. It has rescued 9,672 lives by coordinating 3,180 search and rescue missions, which inter alia includes 2,479 air sorties and 3,540 ship deployments, since inception. ICG thus saves one precious life every second day. Further, ICG also escorted more than 6,000 fishing boats to safe locations during the passage of three severe cyclonic storms this year. In this year alone, ICG took 300 SAR missions involving the rescue of close to 1,000 lives at sea which includes 27 MEDEVAC operations and some of the rescue operations were conducted at the fringes of Indian Search and Rescue Region.