Joao Souza M | NT
The government, it seems, has not learnt a lesson from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, as coastal police stations in state lack adequate staff and equipment to keep a check on the state’s coastline.
For instance, the Betul coastal police station, which patrols 23-km coastline from Cabo de Rama to Majorda, has just one 12-tonne vessel for patrolling. Also, the police station is understaffed with less than 20 per cent of the sanctioned strength in all posts which is a major cause of concern.
The porosity of the coast was exposed after unregistered trawlers were found operating freely till the fisheries department cracked the whip and stopped their supplies.
It may be recalled that the then Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, in a reply in the Raja Sabha, had stated that under the Coastal Security Scheme (CSS), the Centre has allotted financial assistance of Rs 384.80 lakh to the seven coastal police stations in the state for improvement of infrastructure.
The source informed that construction of seven CPSs and two jetties, procurement of ten four-wheelers, seventeen two-wheelers, ten Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) and surveillance equipment including equipment for enhancing night operation capabilities of boats, computer systems and furniture was proposed however there has been no headway.
The official informed that the equipment is ageing and the 12-tonne vessel at the Betul coastal police state encounters breakdowns often even though it is serviced every year. The vessel was procured in 2010 while the canoe which is used to navigate the rivers is also not functional.
The official admitted that they have no capability for night patrolling while the police station does not even have a binoculars.
The source also informed that every coastal police station was supposed to be provided a hovercraft for quick response which is also yet to see the light of the day.
The official however informed that some measures have been proposed in the days to come to increase security along the coast. He said that process to call tender for close circuit television cameras along all the beaches from Majorda to Cavelossim has already started.
The official said that the CCTVs will be connected to the Betul coastal police station besides watch towers constructed on islands. The official said that the state government had recently studied the functioning of the coastal police of neighbouring states and several measures have also been proposed to further boost the coastal security.
The official admitted that the coastal police needs to be better equipped as intelligence inputs say that the threat are more from the sea than land so far there has not been any major case but things cannot be taken for chance.
It is learnt that the coastal police are banking on trawler owners for keeping a watch for any suspected elements trying to make their way through the sea. However, some fishermen are unhappy with their functioning and claim that they are being harassed.
President of the Cutbona boat owners co-operative society Savio d’silva said that his boat has been attached by the Harbour police while two separate cases have been filed against him unnecessarily for protesting against illegal bull trawling being carried out off Cabo de Rama coast.