The terrorists who ravaged Mumbai on 26/11 came by boat from Pakistan with lax security checks at the city’s coastline. Seven years on, little has changed.
The porous coast of Maharashtra continues to be a concern with an ageing fleet of patrol boats struggling to monitor the coastline.
In spite of reviews of security preparedness, the state government has taken few steps to ensure its coastal police have adequate facilities and training.
The long coastline comprises numerous creeks and inlets overgrown with mangroves that provide ideal hideouts for extremists and make monitoring a nightmare. Terrorists coming in from Pakistan can use the coastline as a landing point any time, said security agencies after a suspected Pakistani boat was blown up off the Gujarat coast on December 31 last year.
State police have just 70 patrol boats to cover the coastline and a third of these vessels are always in for repairs. The government is waiting for 24 more patrol vessels promised by the Centre.
A marine police training academy proposed to be set up in the state after the 26/11 attacks remains only on paper. But Pravin Salunke, special inspector general of police, coastal security, said: “Coastal security apparatus has improved and we are better prepared to tackle any eventuality.”
Senior officials said 91 landing points where there’s heavy movement of goods and people have been secured.
“There are 550 landing points of which 91 see a lot of people and hence wardens have been deployed at these points. Wardens secure these points 24*7,” said a senior coastal security officer.
But Maharashtra lags behind other states in coastal terror preparedness. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have ensured better monitoring; Tamil Nadu makes a note of every fishing boat going into the sea. The aftermath of the attacks also saw a National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security being set up.