Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday conferred 21 gallantry and meritorious service medals on the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) personnel at an investiture ceremony held here.
The medals were given in recognition of the ‘selfless devotion, exemplary courage and acts of valour of the Indian Coast Guard under extreme conditions, according to a ministry note.
Of the 21 awards, three are President’s Tatrakshak Medals (Distinguished Service), eight Tatrakshak Medals (Gallantry) and 10 Tatrakshak Medals (Meritorious Service) presented during the ceremony.
Addressing the awardees, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh said, “these awards and medals would not only boost the morale of the awardees but inspire other ICG personnel to give their best to safeguard the interests of the nation.” He also appreciated their efforts towards maintaining the safety of the maritime frontiers besides securing India’s vast coastline.
Describing Indian Coast Guard as one of the world’s best maritime forces with over 150 ships and 66 aircraft, Singh said this ‘ever-growing stature instills confidence among the people that the national maritime interests are under safe supervision.’
Rajnath Singh stressed on ‘unhindered maritime activity’ and said it was significant for the rapid development and prosperity of India, ‘a rising maritime power’. He said the concept of unhindered maritime activity was in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ or Security and Growth for All in the Region. He said ICG has been making it possible to achieve that goal through ‘promoting regional cooperation, maintaining maritime peace in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and working closely with international maritime agencies.’
The minister also praised the Indian Coast Guard for its gallant acts of providing aid to the neighbouring countries whenever needed, fire-fighting and pollution response operations – Sagar Raksha-I’ and Sagar Raksha-‘II’ – in dousing the blaze onboard large crude oil carrier ‘New Diamond’ and container vessel ‘Express Pearl’ off the coast of Sri Lanka recently.
Rajnath Singh recalled the role played by ICG in saving precious lives during the recent cyclones ‘Tauktae’ and ‘Yaas’ and their operations against illegal weapons and narcotics trafficking. “The ‘Sentinels of the Sea’ are not only tackling the challenges of the present but also working to secure and strengthen the country’s future,” he said.
According to the ministry in the last one year, ICG carried out 70 medical evacuations, conducted 555 search and rescue operations and saved the lives of more than 1,090 people.
“These timely and courageous acts averted major devastation in the Indian Ocean Region and have positioned India as a responsible and capable maritime power,” the Defence minister further added.