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Marine security op to go on without key vessels

The coastal police will soon showcase its much-talked about coordinated surveillance exercise, Operation Sagri Kavach (sea shield) without its mainstay fleet of amphibious vessels, Sea-legs, which are currently gathering the dust in the warehouse following engine failure almost four months ago.

mumbai Updated: Nov 03, 2011 01:37 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

The coastal police will soon showcase its much-talked about coordinated surveillance exercise, Operation Sagri Kavach (sea shield) without its mainstay fleet of amphibious vessels, Sea-legs, which are currently gathering the dust in the warehouse following engine failure almost four months ago.

The 36-hour-long Operation Sagri Kavach is scheduled to start at 6am on November 4 and end at 6pm on November 5 on the coastal waters of the four littoral districts of the state — Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, apart from the Mumbai coast.

Sources in the coastal police told HT that not only the Sea-legs, the backbone of the chase and surveillance fleet, two large sixteen sitter speed boats (12 tonne class), are also lying idle in the repair yards following frequent engine failures. “In all fairness, we will up the ante during the exercise with just 11 speed boats of our total fleet strength of 23 vessels — four amphibious and 19 lunches,” sources said.

They claimed that the four amphibious vessels (Sea-legs), purchased at a cost of Rs40 lakh each, broke down almost four months ago. These four-sitter vessels were imported from New Zealand as part of the exercise to improve coastal security post-26/11 and were put in use for the first time in India by the Mumbai coastal police.

Two of those vessels were deployed at the Girgaum Chowpatty, while one each was deployed at Mahim and Malwani. However, following the expiry of their warranty period in 2010, the maintenance contract with the local distributors too expired consequently. The mechanics at the Motor Transport Department (MTD) of the Mumbai police were nopt equipped to undertake repair and maintenance of these vessels. This left the police with no option but store the imported machines in its warehouse.

However, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), MTD, KY Joshi claimed that the maintenance contract with the local distributor has been renewed and the required spares for the broken-down Sea-legs will soon be imported. Meanwhile, DCP, Port Zone, Tanaji Ghadge, who is the nodal officer for the Sagri Kavach operation, claimed that the coastal police is fully geared up for demonstrating its surveillance skill with whatever fleet strength it has at its disposal. “We are prepared to showcase our skills during the operation,” he said.

Giving details of the operation, the second of its kind to be held this year, Ghadge said that the co-ordinated naval exercise is organised by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard while other agencies such as the CISF, coastal police, customs, Mumbai Maritime Board, Directorate General of Shipping and Mumbai Port Trust will be participating in every bit of the action.

“The operation will be a test of our surveillance abilities,” Ghadge said adding that the exercise will essentially pertain to interception of decoy terrorists, who will be sent stealthily to the territorial waters.