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India To Build Naval Bases In Agatti And Minicoy Islands

by Web Desk
India To Build Naval Bases In Agatti And Minicoy Islands

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Recent Visit To Lakshadweep

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep, India has resolved to extend its naval footprint by establishing naval bases in Agatti and Minicoy Islands in addition to air bases in order to secure the vital SLOC (Sea Lines of Communication).

The Minicoy Islands are located on the Nine Degree Channel that together with the Amindivi Subgroup form the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Commercial trade that runs into billions of dollars is enabled through the Nine Degree Channel. As a commercial trading route, shipments pass through enroute to South-East Asia and North Asia. In terms of distance, Minicoy Islands is a mere 524 kilometers from Maldives.

Modi Government Has Decided To Build A New Airstrip

As per reports, the Modi government has decided to build a new airstrip at Minicoy Islands and upgrade the air strip at Agatti with plans to establish and station naval assets at INS Jatayu. This decision is a part of Modi government’s strategy to use its islands territories to project power in the Indo-Pacific to support the maritime security of the region.

India will be marking a major maritime security milestone when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on board INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant carrier task forces that includes nearly 15 warships will travel to Minicoy Islands with the Indian Naval top brass to inaugurate a naval base INS Jatayu on March 4-5.

The carrier task forces of INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant enroute to Minicoy Islands promise to be a spectacular sight as they will be accompanied by destroyers, frigates and submarines. This high level of force projection has never happened in the region in the past.

Inaugurate Naval Base INS Jatayu In Lakshadweep

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to inaugurate naval base INS Jatayu in Lakshadweep. The stepping up of military infrastructure in Lakshadweep comes in the wake of strained ties with Maldives. INS Jatayu’s location in the Minicoy Islands in Lakshadweep is just over 500 km away from Maldives.

The news of military push in Lakshadweep comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the union territory which created a stir in Maldives.

The Indian Navy is set to hold the first phase of Combined Commanders Conference on board Indian aircraft carriers with the two armadas travelling from Goa to Karwar to Minicoy Islands to Kochi. The second phase of Combined Commanders’ Conference will be held on March 6-7.

India is already in the process of developing its force capability in Andamans and Nicobar Islands with new facilities at Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar. Alongside, the move to upgrade the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands will not only protect the commercial shipping route but also ensure infrastructural upgrade and tourism in the island territories.

The geographical location of Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands and the Andamans and Nicobar Islands enables India to safeguard the important maritime trade routes while countering the challenge of the rapidly-expanding Chinese Navy and its supplicants in the Indian Ocean.

The main commercial shipping route from Suez Canal or Persian Gulf to South East Asia and beyond goes through the Nine Degree Channel (between Lakshadweep and Minicoy) and the Ten Degree Channel (between Andamans and Nicobar Islands). Due to geography, India dominates even the trade route via Sunda and Lombok Straits of Indonesia.

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