As part of the Central and state government's plan to strengthen Mumbai's coastal security in the aftermath of 26/11 terrorist attacks, 13 speed boats were allotted to the coastal police in addition to the six existing speed boats. But the condition of the 13 boats, responsible for guarding the city's 140km-long coastline, is questionable.
"Currently, of the seven boats available with the Yellow Gate police station, three are out of use because of engine problems," said an official. Besides, said another official, if there is a technical problem with the boats, officials have no option but to summon an engineer from the Goa Shipyard.
"We have no facilities to repair the boats in Mumbai. The Mumbai transport section is not adequately equipped. Since it is not feasible for us to ply mechanics from Goa as soon as a fault develops with the boats, they lie unused for a long time," said inspector M Tope of Yellow Gate police station.
Another argument raised by the officials is that there is inadequate manpower to run the boats. "Often, we cannot run them because there are no drivers for them. We have been told that recruitment is in progress, but there have not been many new recruits since 26/11," said an official from Mahim Sagree police station. "Also, the new recruits, if any, are badly trained. There is a government rule stating that any individual who has studied till Class 4 and has some knowledge of the sea can be a part of the coastal police. So we are recruiting officers with hardly any qualifications," said another official.
Tanaji Gadhge, DCP (port zone) said, however, that the dysfunctional boats have not hampered with patrolling. "We always reserve a few boats for emergencies. So even if a few boats are out of service, the coastal police can perform its duties effectively with the available boats," he said.
Lack of refuelling stations hampers patrolling: Cops
One of the primary issues hampering their patrolling abilities is the lack of refuelling facilities for speedboats, said officials from the coastal police.
The city's coastal police do not have refuelling stations along the coast. Therefore, officials have to get fuel from the Mumbai transport section office of the Mumbai police located at Nagpada every time a boat needs refuelling.
"It is an extremely cumbersome task to bring the boats to shore for refuelling every three to four days. As the fuel is transferred from the Mumbai Transport Unit's tankers, it is done manually since there are no refuelling stations available to the coastal police," said an official, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Besides, officials in the coastal police said, the boats have small tanks and consume a substantial amount of fuel every day.
"The fuel tanks of these boats are usually small and cannot hold more than 500 to 700 litres of fuel. Besides, ever since they were deployed two years ago, their mileage has reduced substantially. They consume about 150 litres of fuel each day and hence need to be refuelled every three to four days," the official added.