After the serial blasts of 1993 devastated Mumbai, then police commissioner A.S. Samra said the coast needed better policing. The explosives used had been brought in by sea.
Fifteen years later terrorists again came in from the sea and laid siege to the city.
In 2005, the central government had come up with a plan to strengthen coastal policing in nine states and four union territories. Twelve of the 73 police stations planned across the country were to come up in Maharashtra. Mumbai was to have one police station and six chowkies — each with a watchtower.
Three years later, there isn’t even a separate commissionerate for the coastal police. So the officials assigned to coastal policing don’t have a clue about their jurisdiction. And finding equipment is a constant struggle.
“We use rented boats, which cannot move faster than 8-10 kilometres per hour,” says senior police inspector Anant Rane, who is attached to the coastal police department. Rane operates out of a temporary office on the premises of the Yellow Gate police station.
The coastal police station was proposed at one of three places — Santacruz Koliwada, Mahim Reti Bunder or Madh jetty. The chowkies already functioning are at Sewri, Sasson, Cuffe Parade and Girgaum Chowpatty.
What about the coastal police stations in the districts adjoining Mumbai? Well, in Navi Mumbai, the NRI coastal police station in the Nerul area has no boats. "We are not able to operate due to lack of infrastructure," says Rafique Bagwan, senior inspector.
In Thane district, land has been allotted at Dahanu, but no coastal police station has come up.
The worst part is that morale is dipping. Most of the personnel had volunteered to serve in the coastal police, when the expansion plans were announced in 2005. “The higher authorities are doing nothing. I want to get shifted to some other branch,” said one officer.
So what do the police brass have to say? The Inspector General of Police (Konkan Range) K.K. Pathak told HT: “We are alert and have intensified the patrolling at points.