Highlighting ‘severe security lapses’ in the coastal areas of the city, the fishermen community has claimed that the “negligence” of the fisheries department and the Marine Police could lead to another incident like the 26/11 terror attacks. President of the Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti, Damodar Tandel, wrote to the Marine Police two weeks ago, asking them to strengthen security against illegal vessels.
Tandel claimed that despite pointing out the security lapses to the authorities, the coastal areas are left unguarded, leaving them open to exploitation by terrorists. “More than 700 unlicenced boats have come in from Gujarat with smuggled goods and they travel in the water unsupervised. Terrorists can come in on any of them,” he said.
He also raised allegations of bribery against the fisheries department. “We don’t blame the police for the poor security since they don’t have the means to monitor the waters. The fisheries department, however, are well aware of the situation and they collect heavy bribes from the unlicenced boats. Even the ones which are confiscated don’t face action since there is no paperwork involved,” said Tandel. He added that the workers on most of the boats are from Nepal and Bangladesh carrying no identification proof.
He added that though 69 speedboats were bought to patrol the coastline, many of them were not operational. “The government was quick to purchase the speedboats but did not have the infrastructure to ensure that they are being used,” he said.
Tandel stated that the officials appointed for patrolling services are not trained enough. “The patrolling is not done on a regular basis and many of the officials can’t even swim properly. The boys in our village know the area well and are excellent swimmers. We had proposed that they train the local men who can guard the waters more effectively,” he said.