The Budget has crumbs for coastal security.

The budget outlay of Rs 40 lakh for coastal security was woefully inadequate to launch the proposed coastal police stations — 10 in all in the second phase — in the State, said former home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

While the coastal security project mooted by the Union Home Ministry and executed in a staggered fashion in States along the coastline envisages States to bear half the expenses, Kerala’s paltry allocation has nixed hopes of launching these urgently needed stations in the coming financial year, Mr. Balakrishnan told The Hindu.

“Another damning proposal seeks private partnership in setting up a Cyber Crime Centre in Kochi. The move to privatise policing is dangerous,” he warned.

G. Sureshkumar, assistant inspector general of police (coastal security), however, maintained that the Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation has already been tasked with building the proposed coastal police stations. “While acquisition of land has taken a long time, that phase is over and now the corporation will begin construction of police stations and jetties on a priority basis. We already have a corpus of Rs. 4 crore granted in aid by the Centre,” he said.

With this, the number of coastal police stations in Kerala will go up to 18. The Coastal Police boast an inventory of 24 boats, in five-tonne and 10-tonne categories, but the new police stations will only have 10- tonne boats for ease of use and efficacy of service, he added.

Mr. Sureshkumar also was also upbeat about a proposal to carve out a dedicated marine police cadre for the State, on the lines of the one in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. “We have proposed that the cadre be headed by an ADG, with more officers and men forming part of it. Currently we’re drawing people from regular police, which is also short-staffed,” he said.

Kerala, it is learnt, has also expressed its desire to provide land in Kasargod for setting up the proposed National Institute of Coastal Policing, which will train marine police for all coastal States.

P.K. Hormis Tharakan, former DGP and ex-chief of RAW, said it would be good if the State gets an exclusive cadre of marine police, as the job demands people with a certain attitude and deportment. “The initial enthusiasm in setting up a foolproof coastal security apparatus with the police forming a vital cog has been lost midway through. Several States have been dragging their feet in putting coastal security measures in place. It is a job that requires a great deal of coordination among various agencies. In Kerala, maintenance of fuel-guzzling boats given to the police has been an issue,” he said.

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