Explained: Why India’s pact with Sri Lanka on a maritime rescue center is significant

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What is the News?

India and Sri Lanka have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Indian public sector Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to set up a state of the art Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Colombo. 

What is the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre(MRCC)?

MRCCs are part of an international network under the UN’s International Maritime Organization. MRCCs monitor the sea lanes with the objective of swift response to emergencies such as vessels in distress, rescue and evacuation of people, and prevention of and containing environmental disasters such as oil spills.

Each country is responsible for its own Search and Rescue Region. The work of MRCCs is coordinated by the Navy or Coast Guard in each country.

In India, the Coast Guard is the coordinating agency. In Sri Lanka, it is the Navy.

How is India helping Sri Lanka in its MRCC?

Bengaluru-based BEL will be enhancing Sri Lanka’s MRCC by setting up advanced software systems that will increase Sri Lanka’s capacities in its Search and Rescue operations.

The enhanced MRCC will work out of the Sri Lankan Navy headquarters at Colombo, with a sub-centre at Hambantota.

Note: In Hambantota, Chinese state-owned company runs a deep water port that was controversially leased to it by Sri Lanka in 2016.

What is the significance of the MRCC agreement between India and Sri Lanka?

1) Enhances cooperation on maritime security between the two countries in a part of the Indian Ocean region where the India-China rivalry has taken centre stage over the last decade.

2) The agreement appears to be part of India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) initiative in the Indian Ocean,

Note: India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Maldives are part of the Colombo Security Conclave.

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Why India’s pact with Sri Lanka on a maritime rescue center is significant” published in Indian Express on 1st April 2022.

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