The project is part of India's obligation under the Safety of Life At Sea Convention to have a continuous navigational telex, Union Shipping Minister GK Vasan said.

The Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), the technical arm of the Indian shipping ministry has been tasked with the job.

"DGLL has made a meticulous plan in covering the entire Indian coastline including islands by establishing seven transmitting stations where safety, weather, and search and rescue-related broadcast will be made up to 250 nautical miles. The scheme is conceived at a cost of about Rs 20 crore and is likely to be operational by December 2014," Vasan said.

He said two of these transmitting stations will be established in Tamil Nadu and laid the foundation for one of the stations.

Vasan also inaugurated a lighthouse museum. He said that the government has also set up a Vessel Traffic System (VTS) in the Gulf of Kutch at an outlay of Rs 182 crore.

"The VTS extends over a coastal area of 800 km at 22 sites, catering to the needs of all the ports of the Gulf of Kutch. This is one of the largest systems in the world presently catering to the requirements of six ports with capability of extension to 10 other ports," Vasan added.

Terming the lighthouses as critical component of nation's maritime security, Vasan said radar network is being set up there to easily identify unfriendly vessels.

"A pilot project to identify suitable transponders for fishing vessels is in progress. This is intended to caution other vessels plying close to the coastline against possible collisions. After successful trials, the project would be extended all over the country's coast to provide navigational safety for fishing vessels," he said.

According to Vasan, the DGLL has chosen 15 lighthouses to promote tourism. Vasan also re-opened the Madras lighthouse for public after a gap of nearly two decades.


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