Role of marine police in coastal security part 2
The Indian coastline is roughly formed by 43%-Sandy beaches,11%,rocky shores including cliffs,46% mud flats/marshy areas. In this type of terrain patrolling either in the sea or by land is challenging. There are about 4000 fishing towns & 1914 traditional landing centres. There are many non-traditional landing centres also. Generally, a policeman/home guard is posted here to monitor the move of fishing vessels.
Challenges to western coast are smuggling of narcotics, arms, ammunition, explosives, infiltration by terrorists, terror attacks, illegal trade etc while the challenges to eastern coasts are illegal Bangla deshi migration, smuggling of arms, ammunition for Naxals.
The fisherman crossing into Pakistan & Sri Lanka waters is a constant challenge.
The landing points of ships or trawlers are vulnerable and therefore there is a need to keep an account of persons onboard and those alighting ashore.
Maharashtra state for a coastline of 720 km has 1000 km of the creek which has to kept under surveillance. Keeping long creeks under surveillance is a huge challenge. The major ports are guarded by CISF & while the 183 minor ports are guarded by CISF/Police/Private security companies.
There are Fishing villages on the coast. While the fishermen are called eyes and ears few of them may indulge in smuggling and anti-national activities.
There are many positives which have evolved because of on the job learning of the police. The infrastructure has improved. The downtime of boats is reduced. The intelligence generated is better than many other stakeholders. The seamanship now is of much better quality. The tenures are long enough. All 204 coastal police stations on the Indian coastline have been operationalized. “A total of 118 coastal security exercises have been conducted since 2009.The security forces have carried out a total 166 coastal operations based on intelligence inputs so far. The government on March 1, 2015, decided to give impetus to steps for coastal security with a whopping 18-fold increase in allocation in Union budget to secure the country’s coastline. 10 Coastal Police Stations to Probe Cases Within Exclusive Economic Zone have been earmarked.
The marine police have been exclusively created for coastal security duties. For this to happen, it is incumbent upon the respective state governments to recognise the severity of sea-borne threats and take effective steps to augment the capabilities of the marine police. It is imperative that the force is adequately strengthened with manpower and assets to function efficiently. States should encourage recruitment of retired IN, ICG, Army engineers, EME personnel in the marine police .A separate cadre of marine police officered by state police officers should be raised as early as possible .
States should encourage recruitment of fishermen in the marine police force by spotting and nourishing talented individuals in the fishermen community. State governments could also raise a separate cadre for marine police officered by state Police officers. States should also concentrate on the issue of training the marine police.
All the states want the fuel costs incurred for Coastal Security to be borne by the Government Of India. Police find it difficult to carry out their operations only with Interceptor Boats; in addition, they also prefer to have Gemini (Inflatable) Boats, All Terrain Vehicles in Runn of Kutch is required. Andaman & Nicobar Islands require larger vessels as they face monsoon from May to October and most of the times the sea is rough; smaller vessels are found unsuitable during rough seas.
The separate communication channel is needed to communicate with Indian Navy, Coast Guard in addition to Channel 16 VHF. Unmanned Aerial Surveillance, Electronic Surveillance is needed in uninhibited islands, marshy lands. Installation of GPS/transponders for all fishing boats/other vessels operating on the coast; must be completed at the earliest.
Future plans should include induction of Hovercrafts, use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV),Creating a network of intelligence through fishermen, Creating National Coastal Security Corps (NCSC) like National Cadet Corps (NCC) . Marine Police must be citizen-friendly for result oriented coastal surveillance.
All bilateral/multilateral exercises with friendly countries should be done during the time of high-security alerts given by the Intelligence agencies. They will act as deterrent for any mischief’s by inimical forces”
To ensure the coastline does not remain porous, construction of the remaining police stations, check posts and operational rooms in jetties should be completed without further delay.The police operations required confidentiality and using common jetties for patrolling boats either jetties owned by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) or by the private operators might cause the risk of breach.
Most of the States find it difficult to maintain Interceptor Boats despite having AMC with Boat Suppliers due to lack of support. While AMC is framed, respective states must be consulted.
Police can gain the expertise to confidently handle Gemini Crafts from Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard.
It is better to go for metallic hull instead of FRP hull as FRP hulls can be easily damaged in a hostile environment while dealing with smugglers, militants. Marine Police must be citizen-friendly for result oriented coastal surveillance.
‘Can 26/11 be repeated? Can a boat get in without being detected? We have improved a lot since last 7 years. However, It is not possible to look at every boat every day. Therefore, technology & intelligence is required for early detection of threat.
We have to improve operational standards of all stakeholders. In this Joint man and ship is very important. With NSG in metro cities, no terrorist will go back alive.
EXTRACT OF MY FORTHCOMING BOOK ON COASTAL SECURITY