Though securing the coastline became crucial after the 26/11 perpetrators used the sea route to attack the city three years ago, glaring lapses since, including grounding of two unmanned ships at Juhu last year, have drawn flak that enough is not being done on the costal security front.
Top Mumbai police and home department officials have now decided to anchor this branch of policing by starting a dedicated training academy, recruiting more personnel and easing selection norms, and by issuing IDs to those who stay along the coast.
The coastal patrolling academy will be set up in Alibaug. “We have identified land and the process of acquiring it and other formalities are being worked out. It will be open to police forces from other states as well,” a senior Mumbai police officer said.
At present, the police are recruiting khalashis and technicians, who usually work as boatmen or repairmen and help out in patrolling duties, on contract basis. “We are planning to recruit only dedicated staff for the coastal police in the future. We are sending policemen from the Mumbai police on coastal duty at present, but most are reluctant as they suffer from sea sickness and other problems,” the officer said.
He added that the height of personnel applying for jobs in the coastal police has been reduced from 165cm to 157cm as most candidates do not meet this requirement. The police have also requested the state government to implement the biometric identity project, which has been pending since the 2008 attacks. “We have complied data of fishermen living in coastal areas of the city. The project is likely to be started soon,” the officer said.
The government had decided to set up coastal police stations after the terror attacks, but the police personnel have been facing problems as they have no training in manning the seas.