At one of Mumbai’s oldest waterfronts, Sassoon Dock, a freshly painted outpost is double locked and remains idle. This yellow and blue porta cabin is one of the four new “coastal chowkis” of the Mumbai Police.
The four new cabins have been set up to secure critical landing points in the city and will be operational next week.
“There is a lot of movement in these areas and we do not have settlements for our officers. These portable cabins could accommodate at least three officers who will be stationed at each of the chowkies. Our main agenda is surveillance to project police presence and bridge the gap between locals and the coastal chowkis,” said Kirankumar Chavan, deputy commissioner of police (port zone).
“Besides Sassoon Dock, the other locations for the coastal chowkies are in Colaba’s Geeta Nagar, Juhu Beach and at Madh Island,” said Chavan.
Chavan said that the new coastal police chowkies are based on the same model of the outpost made below the Bandra Worli Sea Link late last year.
After The Indian Express carried a report on November 26 on the ramshackle police outpost near Bandra-Worli Sea Link – which would be at the frontlines in the eventuality of any terror attack from the sea as on 26/11 – the structure received an exhaustive facelift.
The new coastal chowkies are 10 x 12 feet in size with wooden flooring, modern furniture and also an attached bathroom.
A port zone officer deployed at Juhu beach’s coastal chowky said that officers deputed at this point used the facilities of the Santacruz police’s beat chowky on the beach.
Another officer attached with Geeta Nagar outpost said they were sheltered under asbestos sheet”. “It was a makeshift surveillance point, now there is something more permanent about it,” said a constable, excited about getting to be in a room with tinted windows, a bed and plugpoints.
Senior officers said the state sanctioned the proposals for the chowkies in 2009 but the funds sanctioned were not sufficient for the project and it was stuck for nearly seven years..
After the 26/11 attacks, the Sagari police station was formed, which covered the western coast of Mumbai. It operates out of Mahim police quarters but has now been allotted land at Mahim Reti Bundar, where a new police station is currently being constructed.
The Marine unit of the Mumbai police last year got its fifth coastal police station — Sagari II — in a rented bungalow in Gorai. On Tuesday, a location on Erangal Beach was allotted to the Sagari II police station”
“The new area is 2,000 square feet and we were given possession of the land by the suburban collector on Tuesday morning. However, we will relocate Sagari II police station by 2019. Now the port zone has dedicated properties that they could operate out of,” said a senior Mumbai police officer.