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Commandos and speed boat patrols to guard ports

business Updated: Nov 28, 2008 21:18 IST
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The stunning attack in Mumbai by terrorists who sneaked in by boat from the Arabian Sea has forced the government to put the country’s ports and surrounding industrial hubs in a state of high alert. On the cards are commando guards of each port and speed boat patrols of waterfronts.

The Coast Guard has been authorised to search all merchant vessels entering the Port. “Similarly, Customs (authorities) would also inspect the vessels at outer anchorage and within port limits,” an official statement said.

An elite marine commando unit of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will henceforth guard each port. The CISF is also being asked to raise bomb disposal squads and dog squads separately for each port.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been asked to expedite its project to design and devise a low cost boat tracking system for fishing vessels.

“The ports have been asked to ensure that the trucks entering the premises be equipped with vehicle tracking systems,” the statement said.

The 7,517-km long Indian coastline is peppered with 12 major ports and 187 minor ports. About 95 per cent by volume of India’s international trade, and 70 per cent of value (about $108 billion) in 2007-08 was carried out through sea ports.

The 12 major ports together handled a total of 518 million tonnes of cargo in 2007-08, while the non-major or minor ports handled 185.54 million tones of cargo during the year.

Several industrial hubs and special economic zones are planned around the ports, raising concerns about their future.

“The terror attack via sea route raises our concern on security as it does for everyone else, but nobody other than the government can do anything about it,” said a senior executive at the Adani Port on coastal Gujarat.