With the Union Minister for Defence AK Antony writing to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,the state government has finally got down on the job of setting up a maritime board.
Among other things,the board comprising officials from security agencies,maritime experts and government representatives will be overseeing security and pollution of Kolkata and Haldia ports.
We are going to set up the board as early as possible, said Home Secretary Samar Ghosh.
Antonys letter,which reached the chief minister on August 10,was the latest in a series from the Union government on the issue. Even the Cabinet Secretary,K M Chandrashekhar,had urged the state to set up the Board at the earliest,but all requests had so far drawn a bank.
Back in 2000,the state passed an Act to set up a 12-member Maritime Board to develop minor ports here. The state home department officials are now busy looking for a copy of the Act.
Maritime Boards are there in states like Maharashtra,Gujarat,Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,which have many minor ports, said a home department official.
But in West Bengal,we have no minor port. The two in Kolkata and Haldia are under the control of the shipping ministry. So we could not understand why we should have a maritime board. But now that the Union defence minister has taken up the matter,we have no other option but to set it up.
The Centre,he said,is interested in setting up the Board because port security is a matter of great concern,especially after the Mumbai attack in November 2008.
The MHA has written to us several times to take care of the security of the Port. In his letter,Antony too,mentioned the matter particularly, he said.