While coastal security has admittedly been a challenge for the Mumbai police ever since the 26/11 terror attacks, the city’s 117-kilometre-long coastline remains poorly guarded even six years later.
Five bullet-proof speed boats, each purchased for Rs 5 crore, and 15 other boats acquired by the Mumbai police in 2009 are being used to patrol the coastline. But although a state-of-the-art Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) for coastal security was inaugurated in Delhi on Sunday by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Mumbai still does not have a second coastal police station.
The city’s lone Sagri (coastal) police station is located at Mahim. The second one was sanctioned for Aksa in Malad by the home department last year. It was going to initially operate from a makeshift location in the police quarters at Gorai in Borivali west, but the police station has not yet become functional.
According to officials, they have been searching for a suitable location for a third such police station, proposed to come up along Mumbai’s west coastline, but have had no success so far.
In 2011, the sanctioned strength of the coastal police was 759, of which only 144 vacancies were filled. In 2012, the number of vacant posts increased to 628, which are still lying as vacant.
Apart from the police station, the coastal police had also submitted a proposal for four jettys and five police chowkies across the city. “The state has sanctioned the proposals, but the funds sanctioned five years ago are not sufficient,” said a police officer from the Port Zone.
Harvinderkaur Waraich, deputy commissioner of police (port zone), said the home department had also given its nod for construction of four jetties to park the boats at Madh, Bandra, Sasoon Dock and Cuffe Parade, but they are yet to start.
The coastal police, at present, have 27 speedboats and sealegs to Mumbai. However, 18 of these boats are not operational.
Police sources blame sea pollution for the failure of engines of most of the boats. “The maximum pollution is within 5 nautical miles of the sea, which is under the jurisdiction of the Mumbai police. We repair the boats as and when they need them,” said Waraich.