It is the first monsoon after Mumbai police acquired its high-tech speedboats and amphibious vehicles worth crores of rupees. But these vessels are unable to withstand even the early showers of the season.
The high tides and rains have crippled the entire coastal patrolling operations and the speedboats have been lying idle since the onset of monsoon.
The three speedboats and six sealegs acquired by the police, man the 124-km long coastline of the city. These boats were part of the 28 speedboats ordered by the Maharashtra Police at a total cost of Rs 48 crore.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had selected Goa Shipyard Limited to construct such boats to strengthen coastal security across states but the first rains have hit the backbone of the police. “Even if the boats are not patrolling the sea, the police officers have been stationed on the coast to keep a watch on the coastline,” said S. Patil, inspector of Versova Sagri police station. The police blame the government for not studying the specifications of the boats before purchasing them.
The officers say the reasons why they have stopped patrolling are that the equipment and engine of the speedboats are not fit to penetrate the sea in rough weather, the drivers of the boats are local fishermen who are not qualified to handle the boats in such conditions and they do not want to risk taking the boats into the sea during tide as they are expensive and a slight setback can collapse the entire boat.
“Wading the sea in rough weather is the work of a ship and not speedboats like Koyna and Kaveri,” said a police officer from Yellowgate police station.
According to Goa shipyard Ltd, that manufactured the boats, these boats have been designed to operate in shallow waters in and around harbour and anchorage.
According to Yellowgate and Versova Sagri police, the speedboats and amphibious boats are not capable of wading the sea if it is choppy or during high tide.
“The engines of Koyna and Kaveri develop technical glitches as they aren’t made to penetrate polluted waters of the Mumbai coast,” said an officer.
No trained drivers
Ferry boat owners at the eastern stretch, allege the men who handle Kaveri and Bhima are not well trained and they need to be rescued themselves when they get caught in the high seas. According to police officers too the drivers, originally fishermen, cannot handle the boats in rough weather and lack combat skills.