In spite of heightened aerial surveillance, Karnataka’s coastal security is still a concern for authorities nearly five-and-a-half years after 26/11 terror strike on Mumbai.
The State’s coastline is 320-km-long. It appears there is little monitoring of who comes in and goes out of the 11 minor ports and over 70 fish landing centres. On the other hand, mega infrastructure plans such setting up an Indian Coast Guard (ICG) airbase, facility to station an advanced patrol ship and hover ports are still facing land acquisition problems.
As far as surveillance by the ICG is concerned, its Deputy Inspector-General in Mangalore Rajmani Sharma said, “We have kept up the tempo.” He said that for a period in February, the ICG had ensured about 19 hours of aerial surveillance every day.
But the ICG’s ability is limited in the absence of an airbase, which should have come up here in 2013. Aircraft from Daman and Kochi are doing sorties from a temporary base here. “We call them once in fortnight or 20 days,” he said. The Coast Guard plans to station two helicopters and two aircraft at the airbase here.
ICG has paid Rs. 1.9 crore to the State government for acquiring about 35 acres of land at Bajpe but it finds the progress (made by the administration) slow. Mangalore Assistant Commissioner Prashanth R. said litigation had delayed the progress of land acquisition.
The ICG is yet to get possession of land in Mangalore and Karwar for setting up ports for its two hovercrafts. In Mangalore, the land was earmarked for the purpose in 2012.
Another major plan of the ICG is to build an exclusive jetty within the New Mangalore Port for stationing its 300-ft-long Offshore Patrol Vessel with helicopter, heavy armoury and operation theatre. It was still a “long way off”, Mr. Sharma said.
New Mangalore Port Trust Deputy chairman T.S.N. Murthy said land had been allotted and the ICG could build a jetty any time “on their own”.
The ICG’s plan to set up radar stations at several points to detect movements in the high seas was yet to take off due to land acquisition issues, Mr. Sharma said. Absence of maritime board in Karnataka, which could monitor activities in minor ports, was also a concern.
The State government set up nine coastal police stations after 26/11, but it is said that facilities such as jetties and trained personnel to operate boats are yet to reach the optimum level.