The Indian Navy is in advanced stages of consultations with the Tamil Nadu government and central agencies on expansion of footprint in the state under its initiative to have an important base here, a top official said today. The Navy was also looking for land availability in the state under this initiative, Flag Officer Commanding, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Rear Admiral, Alok Bhatnagar said. "We are at advanced stages of consultations with the state government and central agencies towards expansion of naval footprint in Tamil Nadu", he told reporters onboard Indian Navy Ship (INS) Sumitra. The Navy was looking at adequate infrastructure to expand its presence, he said. "We are confident of complete support of the state government for allotting required land for infrastructure augmentation.
We aim to make an important naval base in Chennai by creating the required infrastructure", he said. To a query, Bhatnagar said, "Tamil Nadu was forthcoming as far as land acquisition was concerned. We have identified some land in Ramanathapuram." For Chennai, he said, land has been identified in South Chennai and also at Saidapet in the city but they were yet to decide. On the initiatives taken up as part of north-east monsoon preparedness, he said the Navy was actively involved with local administration following the damage caused by cyclone 'Ockhi' in Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli. Three naval and two Coast Guard ships and maritime patrol aircraft P8i were involved in the surveillance of Gulf of Mannar region and rescued 14 fishermen from the sea, he said. To a query on how many ships were to be pressed into service in rescue operations as cyclone 'Ockhi' was expected to hit the Lakshadweep coast, he said, "INS Sagardhwani, INS Nireekshak, INS Jamuna along with one advanced light helicopter and maritime patrol aircraft P8i were sent." On the steps taken to support Indian fishermen, he said an international boundary line meeting between the Navy, Coast Guard, Sri Lankan Navy and Sri Lankan Coast Guard was being held "bi-annually". "The next meeting will be scheduled in January 2018", he added. Bhatnagar and senior officials were here in connection with the golden jubilee celebrations of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam which coincides with the Navy Day on December 4. The Navy Day is celebrated each year on December 4 to commemorate India's victory 46 years ago in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and to salute the valiant heroes who brought us "this moment of pride", Bhatnagar said. "This year is even more special as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the Eastern Naval Command and the Navy's submarine arm," he said.
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