Coastal security seems to be a priority for the state police only on paper. Sixteen of 20 Sealegs Amphibious Marine Craft that the Mumbai police bought after the 2008 terror attack are in bad shape, having been fitted with carburetors from Maruti Gypsies and spark plugs from Ambassadors to keep them running. Every time these boats enter the water, there is a danger of them tipping over, said a police source.
According a senior IPS official, who did not wish to be quoted, the vehicles were inducted into the force in 2009 for better coastal patrolling and stationed at Girgaum, Dadar, Juhu and Versova beaches. They cost Rs 20 lakh each and can accommodate four armed personnel.
A source said these boats, manufactured locally, can reach speeds of around 40 knots in water and around 10 km/hour on land.
But within a year of their purchase, the police stopped using them to patrol the coast after finding that they were inconvenient to operate and could not be used in rough weather.
According to police officials, these boats were designed to operate in shallow waters in and around harbours.
“The annual maintenance contract for these boats is up and the ministry of home affairs is conducting a survey of all coastal security. We have informed senior officials that the boats are not of much use,” said a Mumbai police official, who did not wish to be named. He added that senior officials of the state government will decide whether the amphibious boats will remain in service or be retired.
An port zone official said most of them were in favour of retiring the boats.