The Navy has reiterated its concern over the security of high-value industrial establishments along Puthuvype-Cherai Beach and demanded that fishing be outlawed within a radius of four kilometres (two nautical miles) from these installations.

The Navy has reiterated its concern over the security of high-value industrial establishments along Puthuvype-Cherai Beach and demanded that fishing be outlawed within a radius of four kilometres (two nautical miles) from these installations.

The issue was raised by Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command, when he called on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram recently. He apprised Mr. Chandy of the importance of securing the area, which houses the BPCL-Kochi Refinery, upcoming LNG Petronet Terminal and the Vallarpadam Transshipment Container Terminal, against threats from forces inimical to the country.

Mr. Chandy, on his part, said he would take a call on it after consulting various agencies concerned. A survey of the State’s 590-km coast was underway and stakeholders such as the Fisheries department should be taken on board before a decision on this was arrived at, he is learnt to have said.

While fishing within a nautical mile from the BPCL-Kochi Refinery’s Single Point Mooring (SPM) — a buoy anchored 19.5 km off Kochi that acts as a mooring point and interconnect for huge tankers to load/offload oil or gas — was banned by the district administration on the recommendation of the Navy, the call to declare ‘no-fishing zone’ along the Puthuvypeen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has so far been unheeded fearing protest from fishermen’s forums.

Navy’s fears

The Navy fears that frenetic fishing activity in the vicinity of the high-security installations could help terrorists disguise as fishermen and target these flammable assets from fishing boats. “There is also a need to erect a façade or camouflage screen along the coast overlooking these installations to protect them from being targeted from the sea,” said naval sources.

The civil authorities, however, maintain that the measures suggested by the Navy require wide-ranging consultations and time for implementation. “Work on the LNG terminal is still on. Once that is over, the Chief Minister in consultation with agencies having a stake in coastal security will review security of Puthuvype,” said sources in district administration.

Power-glider operation

Having earlier expressed reservations about the District Tourism Promotion Council’s proposal to introduce power-gliding at the Puthuvype beach as a tourist attraction on grounds of military flight safety and security of vital assets in the vicinity, the Navy also wants the district administration to draft guidelines for beach-related activities in the sensitive zone.

In view of the objections raised by the Navy citing that the proposed flight path of the gliders came in way of the flight path of military aircraft operating from INS Garuda, the district administration is now looking at other options and the site of power glider operation could be shifted to the beach at Chellanam.

“The DTPC is keen to launch the adventure sport. We will hold a round of discussions with the Navy on this. If there is no other option, the venue will have to be shifted to Chellanam, which has been declared large enough to support the adventure activity,” District Collector P.I. Sheik Pareeth said.

Keywords: Puthuvyperadarsecurity

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