India on Monday took a major step forward towards strengthening the security of it’s island territories by setting up a second naval base at Lakshadweep islands.
The base, christened INS Dweeprakshak, was commissioned at Kavaratti in the Lakshadweep archipelago by Southern Naval Commander Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil.
The base will not only provide additional coastal security to the 36 islands in Lakshdweep archipelago but will also guard the sea lanes used by merchant ships and help in intelligence gathering.
“Lakshadweep islands form the maritime frontiers of our country on the western side. Commissioning of a full-fledged Naval Base is another milestone in the commitment of Indian Navy to maintain effective coastal surveillance and defence capability,” Vice Admiral Sushil said.
Radar stations and other surveillance measures have been put in place for monitoring the shipping traffic and intelligence gathering in the area.
A firmer footing in the islands, which are spread out astride some of the busiest shipping lanes of the world, would provide the necessary wherewithal to the Indian Navy to discharge its responsibilities.
Lakshadweep is India’s only coral island chain. The archipelago consists of 36 islands, 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. Only 10 islands – namely, Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy – are inhabited.
The islands have a total area of 32 sq.km. and the lagoons enclosed by the atolls cover an area of 4,200 sq.km.