Panaji, Nov 25 (IANS): The around 105-km long Goa coast, which was put on alert after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, is under close watch by the coastal police, according to officials. However, the opposition Congress has suggested to the government to focus more on coastal security, instead of spending money on events.
Curtorim MLA Aleixo Lourenco, an Independent, had raised the issue of coastal security during the monsoon session of the Assembly, where Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had replied that all measures are taken to ensure that coastal security is not jeopardised.
Speaking about the patrolling vessel used by the coastal police, Sawant had said that the newly procured 15 meter Fast Interceptor Boat was designed and built by one of the premier shipyards of the country to conduct sea patrols and to meet marine challenges. “It is equipped with Radar, Automatic Identification System, GPS, Echo-sounder, Magnetic Compass, Communication equipment, Surveillance equipment, etc,” he said.
Sawant said that the police personnel posted at the coastal security police stations are regularly trained in various aspects of coastal policing at the National Academy of Coastal Policing at Okha in Gujarat, Indian Navy, Coast Guard, boat related training with Goa Shipyard Limited and Captain of Ports Department.
Aleixo Lourenco had also asked whether the government is planning to establish a Marine Police Force on the lines of commandos who are trained to fight and use weapons in the water. Replying to him Sawant had said that “ No such proposal is under consideration of the government,”
Lourenco, speaking to IANS, said that a Marine Police Force is the need of the hour. “I really believe that this force should be established with more ‘teeth’ and they should patrol the sea round the clock. So far, we have seen coastal police taking action against illegal sand mining and nothing else.”
He added that when drugs are available on the ground, the possibility that they are coming via the sea route can’t be ruled out. “I will not say that drugs come from the sea route, but the possibility cannot be ruled out,” Lourenco, who has supported the BJP government, said.
Speaking to IANS, a senior home department officer said that there are 10 boats, including the newly procured Fast Interceptor Boat, which keep a close watch on all activities along the coast.
“We have seven police stations along the 105 km coastal area and there are around 400 staff working to ensure security,” he said.
“Those who allege that narcotics come through the sea route, they should first understand that there are three-layer checks and security there -- the Navy, Coast Guard and the coastal police. Criminals can’t pass through these layers,” he said, adding that if the opposition has any information about drug supplies they should share it with the police.
“Our police patrol the coastal area round the clock. We have enough staff and the facilities which are needed to combat any illegal activities taking place in the coastal areas. Our coastline is absolutely safe,” he said.
Girish Chodankar, permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee, said that the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai
were the most horrifying and darkest days of history.
“Heavily armed terrorists entered Mumbai through the coast and killed dozens of innocent people and police personnel, injuring hundreds. After this incident, we need to be really vigilant and keep a constant watch on our coast,” Chodankar said.
“We need to remember that these terrorists of 26/11 had entered Mumbai using fishing boats. In Goa too we are engaged in fishing activities. If you ask our fishermen they will tell you that our coast is not safe. I doubt that the coastal police even have facilities to check and combat terrorist activities,” he said.
“The BJP led government of Pramod Sawant is nothing but an event management company and has compromised the safety of people. Thus we can see narcotics entering the state most probably through the sea routes. Today it is narcotics, in the future more illegal things can enter Goa and our tiny state could be a target if we don’t take measures,” Chodankar said.
“I request this government to please take a lesson from the 26/11 incident and bring measures to keep a check on illegal activities. There is a need to provide more facilities to the coastal police and recruit more staff for coastal patrolling,” Chodankar added.
National Fish Workers Forum (NFF) General Secretary Olencio Simoes said that “Our coast is not safe because if we go to the ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ we can see foreign boats coming there, there is no control. I don’t know what the coast guards are doing. Illegal things are happening in the sea be it LED fishing or bull trawling.”
He said the government has no control over it and any boat can reach our coast. “This is a serious concern. There is no check.”
“If you go 6 to7 miles into the sea you can see hundreds of boats, making it look like a playground. Illegal things are happening there. Then how will our coast be safe? The government should learn lessons from the 26/11 terror attack and take measures to safeguard Goa,” Simoes said.