A month-and-a-half before the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack, the Centre rebuked the state government for not taking the issue of coastal security seriously. In a meeting held in Delhi by the ministry of home affairs in the last week of September, the state government was criticised for not doing enough on the coastal security front despite having received more than 250 intelligence inputs this year.
Some inputs specifically refer to the possible threat of terrorists using the sea to enter Maharashtra and creating mayhem. Ten terrorists involved in the 26/11 attack had also sneaked into South Mumbai using the sea route.
Sources said the meeting was chaired by Gauri Kumar, secretary, border management. Officials from other state governments which share the coast also participated in the meeting. “The government of India pulled up the state government as Maharashtra is the only state which has not built coastal police stations. All the other coastal states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have completed the said work,” said a senior police officer associated with coastal security.
“The Coastal Security Scheme Phase I project of Maharashtra began in 2006, yet three of the 12 police stations — NRI and Mora in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai Sagri — have not got their buildings to date,” the officer said. As per Phase II of the scheme, seven new police stations were sanctioned apart from the 12 already approved. These were supposed to be operational by March 2013. However, only three police stations — Uttan, Arnala and Kelva in Thane rural — are operational.
“The notifications for the remaining four — Dabol and Punagarh in Ratnagiri district, Dadar in Raigad and Mumbai Sagri II — are still lying with the state. As a result, they are not operational,” the officer said.
Another officer told dna that the government of India provided funds to the state government for the construction of three jetties, but not even one is ready. “As far as the boats are concerned, almost 50 per cent of them have always been under repair for nearly two years. Posts of engine drivers and khalasis (people employed at ports and docks) are sanctioned, but the state has been unable to take a decision on recruitment rules,” the officer told dna.
The latest rap on coastal security is an eye-opener for the state. “Many times, terrorists do dry runs like transporting goats in a dhow which was intercepted recently. Those on the boat had a satellite phone as well. It is important for the Maharashtra government to wake up from its slumber and secure the coast,” the officer said.
The state has received over 250 intelligence inputs this year with some referring to the possibility of terrorists using the sea to carry out attacks. Despite this, coastal police stations have not been built and the boats have been under repair for nearly two years.