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A small device could have averted Mumbai attack? December 7, 2008

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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The Mumbai mayhem, which claimed 183 lives and crores of financial losses, could have been averted if the governments of the coastal states have acted on the recommendation of Coast Guard to fit the fishing boats with a low-cost alarm system developed by ISRO to send alerts during emergency.

Reportedly, it was fishing trawler M V Kuber which was hijacked by terrorists to reach Mumbai coast. “If the trawler which was allegedly hijacked by terrorists to reach Mumbai had this equipment, Coast Guard would have been able to locate and intercept it in the sea soon after terrorists took over,” a coast guard official said.

The device known as low cost Distress Alarm Transmitter (DAT), developed by Space Application Laboratory, ISRO Ahmedabad is a small Global Positioning System (GPS) based fisheries alert system.

The system when activated, in distress situations, gives GPS coordinates of the boat to Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Chennai which alerts the nearest ship or boat of coast guard.

The battery operated transmitter having unique identification number can send out continuous alerts for 24 hours once in every five minutes while rescue teams track the boat as it appears on GIS map on their computer screens.

The equipment displays time of activation, Boat ID and type of emergency and position of boat along with the audio alarm at the receiver’s end.

Some complementary pieces of the alarm, costing less than Rs 10,000 were distributed by the Coast Guard among fishermen in each coastal state.

“The Coast Guard had recommended that governments of coastal states further subsidise it and distribute it among the fishermen communities as cost was one of the factor which doesn’t make it popular,” said Captain D M Nambiar, Navy spokesperson based in Mumbai.

Sources in Coast Guard have said that they spoke to authorities of all the major coastal districts in the states having coastline to make the use of the gadget mandatory.

“Our point was that if the state government provides some additional subsidy and ensure that fishermen start using it, we could serve them better in emergency situation. We had the product but we are not a regulatory body and hence cannot request for making it popular,” said a Coast Guard Official, preferring anonymity.

“According to estimates, there are about 50000 fishing boats operating in the coastal districts of Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is the job of the state governments to distribute and ensure that every ship, boat and trawler has such gadgets,” he said.

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