With at least three incidents of thefts in the past six months— the latest being in March — at the offshore oil rigs and platforms of Bombay High, off Mumbai coast, the issue of alleged porous security at the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) oil rigs has come to the fore.
The Yellow Gate police, under whose jurisdiction the rigs fall, stated that there have been cases where copper wires and copper plates worth Rs 10.45 lakh have been stolen.
Though the thefts have been petty, the unhindered access to these rigs points at the sloppy security apparatus.
A case was registered on March 7 after the theft of copper wires and plates from the rig and its platform. The Yellow Gate police said similar incidents had taken place in October last year. And though the police had interrogated several fishermen who venture in deep sea for fishing, there has been no headway in any of the incidents.
Police said most of the permanent platforms were unmanned, which lead to such incidents.
Citing regular security alerts in the city, the police said it would be difficult to tackle a major incident at the offshore installations with the available resources.
Although the state has provided the Yellow Gate police with speedboats, sources claim they are of little help in the sea as the rigs are located as far as 95 nautical miles from the coast.
Pandurang Dhoke, senior inspector, Yellow Gate police station, said, “The high seas are rough and the boats are small. On several occasions, a patrol team has to return owing to rough seas.”
Other policemen said they were ill-equipped for the off-shore duty. The officers said that though the city police had jurisdiction of 5 nautical miles into the sea, they had to travel up deep inside as the oil rigs fall under them.
An officer said on condition of anonymity: “The boats lack maintenance and hence their output is minimal. Also, there has to be better training for handling and curbing crime in the seas as policing on land is totally different from the sea.”