The central government has mooted an idea of installing high-resolution cameras on high rises in the country’s western coastal belt. High-rises in Mumbai will also be identified for coastal surveillance. State police have been asked to prepare a plan for the implementation.
Following the suggestion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the idea was discussed in a meeting of the Western Zonal Council chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh at Sahyadri guest house in south Mumbai on Friday. The council reviewed the progess of implementation of about 22 projects related to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Diu & Daman and Dadara & Nagar Haveli. Although the scheme will be applicable for all the states with a coastline, the high-rises along Mumbai’s coast will play a major role.
Officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs said modalities are yet to be finalised by the government, although the state governments have been asked to play a major role to get approval from private structures. Officials claimed these security measures will be in addition to the existing watch towers with hi-tech surveillance systems put up by various security agencies.
Singh emphasised on better Centre-state coordination to ensure foolproof coastal security . He observed that the western states of India, while being among the most developed economically, were also vulnerable to terrorist strikes. In light of the prevailing security environment, it is the Centre’s priority to bolster coastal security through a series of measures, including modernisation of police forces, better surveillance and acquisition of modern equipment and assets, he said.
Singh said the zonal council meetings are an important instrument of cooperative federalism.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis reiterated the demand for an independent marine force for coastal security. Naini Jayaseelan, secretary, Inter State Council Secretariat, said the proposal by Fadnavis during the last meeting held in June was being considered and it will help governments bridge the gaps in security. Jayaseelan said states have made remarkable progress in the implementation of measures towards coastal security — Maharashtra has strengthened its geo -mapping system, while Gujarat has set up A National Marine Police Academy at Dwarka.
Vijay Rupani, chief minister of Gujarat, Fracis Dsouza, deputy chief minister of Goa and officials from various central ministries and two union territories participated in the meeting. The council discussed 22 issues related to coastal security, issuance of biometric cards to fishermen, formulation of the plans to counter terrorism, modernisation of the police force, among others.
The Gujarat government raised the issue of the rescue of the 400-odd fishermen lodged in various Pakistan jails for crossing the marine border. Jayaseelan said the process of identifying 252 fishermen with the help of the consul general has been completed and the ministry of external affairs will push for their release.