On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving for a five-day tour of the island nations, during which he would commission the first coastal surveillance radar system in the Mahe island in Seychelles.
The remaining seven stations in Seychelles would be up and running in the next six months. Five of them would be at Mahe whereas three would be located in outer islands.
While the prime minister was initially scheduled to visit all the four islands housing these coastal radars, Maldives was dropped out of his itinerary because of the ongoing political turmoil.
The India Ocean surveillance radar network comprises eight stations each in Seychelles and Mauritius and 10 in Maldives. Former defence minister A K Antony commissioned the snooping stations in Mauritius about two years ago.
The six units in Sri Lanka, however, do not have the radar at the moment but only the automatic identification system (AIS) and electro-optical instruments. Other islands would have all the three components – maritime navigational radar that operate in the I-band frequency, AIS for boats weighing more than 300 tonnes and the electro-optical system for imaging.
While the network would aid these islands to monitor their Exclusive Economic Zone, India can use the data to keep an eye on the Chinese maritime traffic.
“We have to do it for our own interest. Else, someone else (read China) will gain in the time we lose,” said a source.
The 10 coastal radar stations in Maldives are soon expected to receive the Cabinet approval. Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan visited Mauritius in January when he reviewed the progress of several naval projects, including the coastal stations.