Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) revealed on Wednesday that the establishment of Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems (CSRS) under Indian aid is ongoing since its inception in 2005, adding that Indian Military personnel will not be monitoring the operations.
In response to a question posed during a news conference held at the Coast Guard Building, the Chief of Defence Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal stated that the radar systems should have been established earlier.
Speaking about the importance of CSRS to the country, Major General Shamaal noted that, as Maldives is located in a hotbed for illegal activity, the high-level surveillance systems would contribute towards averting such crimes.
“Occassionally, oil tankers sometimes enter Maldivian territory and attempt to bootleg low-grade fuel”, said the Major General, detailing the illegal undertakings.
“Drugs also enter our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone]”.
He also drew attention to the fact that fishermen will greatly benefit from the installation of these radars, adding that it would solve a lot of challenges facing surveillance at sea.
The Defence Chief further disclosed that Maldives had made the decision on the strategic locations where the radars would be placed. Major General Shamaal revealed some of these locations to be Gan, Addu Atoll, Kahdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Uligan, Haa Alif Atoll and Makunudhoo, Haa Dhaal Atoll.
Addressing assumptions that India may demand that their military personnel should oversee operations of the radars, Vice Chief of Defence Brigadier General Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef disclosed that Indian military would only be involved in the installation process.
“Right now there are three pre-installed operational radars. A total of 10 radars will be installed. Indian military will have no involvement in operating, maintaining or overseeing these radars once they are installed”, Vice Chief of Defence further guaranteed.
The opposition has accused the ruling coalition government of signing secret agreements concerning the radar installations, however, these claims were denied by the Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi.
Mariya stated that the radar agreements were signed by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s government, emphasising that the current government did not bring any changes to the agreement.
Furthermore, Defence Minister Mariya stated that all discussions had taken place in accordance with previous agreements in order to resume the halted work.
The Minister added that the pillars for the radar systems were built during Yameen's administration.