Maharashtra’s coastal security porous, CAG asks govt to buck up

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 10, 2015 22:19 IST

The coastal security scheme floated by the home department a decade ago to check entry points along Maharashtra’s 720-km coastline may not be effective, as the infrastructure planned has either not come or has been grossly delayed, the 2014 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pointed out.

The report comes down heavily on boat patrolling along the coast, saying boats were only logging in 18% of the prescribed hours. With no biometric entry cards for fishermen, landing points are vulnerable.

The coastal security scheme outlines the setting up of coastal security police stations, jetties and check posts, and acquiring patrol boats with trained staff.

Even though the scheme got a push after the 26/11 terror attack – when terrorists entered the city on a dingy from the sea, not much seems to have changed till date.

“To ensure the coastline does not remain porous, construction of the remaining police stations, check posts and operational rooms in jetties should be completed without further delay,” the report recommends.

The audit has also revealed against the norm of 1400/1800 hours an annum, the 76 boats posted in the seas off the state had logged only 90,812 hours between 2009 and 2014 – or 18% of the prescribed norms.

The report said there was no management information system that got periodical reports on the hours of patrolling lost, and that shortage of manpower was cited for the non-utilisation of boats.

The report said the government has to rethink recruiting contract staff for sensitive operations, as this could pose a risk. Despite hiring contact staff, there was a shortfall of technical staff for boat operations of 51% and non-technical staff of 37%. Greater Mumbai has the least staff, at 66%.

The report concluded that the construction of 8 of the 12 coastal police stations was delayed by 5 to 48 months, costing Rs 2.22 crore extra. Similar cost escalations were seen in the 32 check posts, of which only 26 are ready.

The police who have to get their own jetties are either using private jetties or those belonging to the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB). This could be a breach of confidentiality of police operations, the CAG has pointed out.

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