India to IMO: Donít extend piracy zone closer to our coast

Piracy zone

Inida has opposed the extension of the piracy zone in the Indian Ocean region ó which brings the boundary of this danger zone close to Indian waters on the west coast ó fearing it will hurt merchant vessels by raising their insurance premiums as well as bring foreign navies nearer to Indian shores.

The position was articulated by the Indian delegation at the ongoing 89th International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) maritime safety convention in London. India said it was "dismayed" that the "war zone limit" had been extended beyond the existing boundary of 65 degree east longitude to 78 degrees east, almost next to India's territorial waters on the western coast, according to a statement by the Directorate-General of Shipping.

This, the Indian delegation said, "has direct implication to the transaction cost of commodities to Indian ports". "Considering that there have been no attacks reported for the last two months within 500 nautical miles of the Indian coast, after Indian Navy has taken remedial measures, it is imperative that the eastern boundary of 'war zone' be reduced to an appropriate longitude if not brought back to earlier limit of 65 degree east," the statement quoted the delegation as saying.

Although the delegation chose to speak on the "direct implications to the transaction cost of commodities to Indian ports", senior Coast Guard and Navy officials in Mumbai said the transaction cost was being used as a "veil" behind the larger concern of sovereign power over the country's nautical jurisdiction.

As many as 46 Indian sailors are being held hostage by Somali pirates. In March this year, the Indian National Shipowners' Association had approached the Indian Navy as the war risk premium for merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean had gone up from $500 per ship per voyage to $150,000 per ship per voyage.

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