Top Coast Guard official to oversee entire west coast

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The central government has appointed an officer of the rank of additional director-general to head the complete operation of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on the vulnerable west coast, it was announced on Wednesday.

Inspector-General S.P.S. Basra has been promoted to the rank of additional director-general and assumed charge in Mumbai on Wednesday, an official said here.

The appointment assumes importance in the wake of a controversy involving former Deputy Inspector-General B.K. Loshali, the Chief of Staff of ICG North West Region based in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar.

Loshali has claimed that he had ordered the blowing off of a suspicious Pakistani vessel off the west coast in the Arabian Sea on New Year’s eve, contradicting the government’s official version.

The government’s stand in the matter was that ICG ships had chased the suspicious vessel and the four men aboard it had set it ablaze.

Following an embarrassing political and diplomatic uproar, Loshali was forced to retract his statement. Later, he was served a show-cause notice and removed from the crucial post pending a board of inquiry against him.

The ICG said on Wednesday that the new appointment is in tandem with the government endeavours for giving impetus to ICG operations.

“In order to meet the evolving asymmetric maritime challenges and takeover envisaged responsibility of coordination of new matrix if coast security mechanism, enhanced responsibility towards maritime search and rescue, pollution response and extensive surveillance of EEZ, the new post was created,” the ICG said in a statement.

Basra will be in-charge of the entire ICG West Region comprising the maritime states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands and the union territory of Daman and Diu.