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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

A visit to Sagar Island on a Hovercraft as part of Indian Coast Guard's 48th Rising Day celebrations

A four-hour bus ride took a group of around 40 individuals, including us, to the Haldia port from where the journey commenced

Sanjali Brahma Published 24.02.24, 07:43 AM
The Haldia Hoverport proudly houses four of the 18 hovercrafts owned by the Indian Coast Guard.

The Haldia Hoverport proudly houses four of the 18 hovercrafts owned by the Indian Coast Guard. Bhubaneswarananda Halder

As the Indian Coast Guard celebrated its 48th Rising Day on February 1, the ICG organised a trip to Sagar Island via hovercrafts for a select set of people. A four-hour bus ride took a group of around 40 individuals, including us, to the Haldia port from where the journey commenced.

Inspector General Iqbal Singh Chauhan, TM Commander, Coast Guard Region (N.E.), welcomed the attendees and said: “ICG has grown into a force with 152 ships and 78 aircrafts in the last 48 years. We are expecting to achieve 200 surface platforms and 100 aircrafts by 2030. Our motto is 'Vayam Rakshamah', which translates into 'we protect'.” He added: “We have saved over 11,554 lives since 1977 and 200 lives in 2023 alone. I personally believe that saving a single life matters too and we give our best to save every life that is at stake in the waters or estranged islands.” The Indian Coast Guard maintains 24x7 vigilance by deploying about 50 to 60 ships and 10 to 12 aircrafts every day. It also undertakes coast cleanliness efforts and has busted several narcotics rackets too.

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Three hovercrafts were deputed to take the attendees across the river to the island

Three hovercrafts were deputed to take the attendees across the river to the island

The hovercraft ride was the highlight of the day. If you know how amphibians work, the functioning of the hovercraft will make sense to you. It is an air cushion vehicle which runs both on water and land. A difference in air pressure between the ship and the atmosphere creates lift, which results in the hovercraft floating above the surface. To the common man, it may seem that the ACV is skimming above water on a big rubber balloon. The ICG has immense utility of this vehicle considering India’s maritime structures. Especially for the Haldia port that needs to rescue numerous stranded individuals from the Sunderbans, the hovercraft is a blessing since it can navigate well on marshy lands and is well equipped for the same. When initiated, the hovercraft has a roaring sound that lasts for 10-15 minutes.

ICG Commandant Akshay Jain who was present on the occasion, said: “The hovercrafts are the lean and mean horses for shallow water operations. Last year in Haldia, these machines saved about 148 mela pilgrims from their distressed vessels at sea. Today marks 48 years of the Indian Coast Guard and we are commemorating it.” Wing Commander Himanshu Tiwari who also accompanied the media representatives on the hovercarft, said: “ACVs are a versatile asset for the ICG and a crown jewel. They play a pivotal role in coastal patrols and rescue missions while navigating shallow waters, marshes and challenging terrains. These vehicles reach where others cannot and they showcase the ICG’s commitment to safety and efficiency.”

Hovercraft at Ganga Sagar Island

Hovercraft at Ganga Sagar Island

We noticed the smell of shutki maach (dried freshwater fish) wafting through the air. On talking to Nayachar, a local fisherman, he explained to us that the tiny items sundrying on the beach were loitya maach (Bombay duck) that they catch and dry on a regular basis. Gangasagar island is one of the prominent exporters of dried freshwater fish in eastern India.

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