Irony of not one or two but 10 marine police stations that exist only on paper
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Wednesday's terror attack in Mumbai has not only exposed the vulnerability of Gujarat's 1,600 km-long coastline, but also the poor levels of preparedness of 10 marine police stations set up two years ago along the state's coast .
Besides the badly equipped marine police station in south Gujarat about which Newsline reported on Thursday, the nine marine stations along the Saurashtra coastline — Bhatiya (Jamnagar), Harshadmata (Jamnagar), Bedi (Jamnagar), Pipavav (Amreli), Bhavnagar (Bhavnagar), Delwara (Junagadh), Bhadreshwar (Bhuj), Somnath (Junagadh) and Nawabandar(Jamnagar) — exist only on paper.
These marine stations were set up with a fund of Rs 50 crore allotted by the Centre and are maintained by the state government. The sanction to these marine stations was given in view of the proximity to the Pakistan border, and the presence of Reliance Petroleum Limited in Jamnagar, Somnath Temple in Junagadh district and the Dwarka Temple in Jamnagar district.
Set up in November 2006, these stations are yet to be furnished with the basic infrastructure facilities. Barring the one in Somnath, not one has a building of its own. All function from makeshift structures.
They have neither speedboats nor basic marine kits. Besides, very few staff members have been trained in marine policing.
"We have neither craft nor boats for patrolling. We don't even have binoculars or life jackets," said an officer with the Prabhas Patan marine police station. The station is assigned the responsibility of providing security to the Somnath Temple.
The inadequate infrastructure has turned this marine police station into an ordinary one and now handles only routine crime cases.
Navibandar police station at Una in Amreli district is manned by one sub-inspector. It functions from the building of the Gujarat Maritime Board.
The plans for the buildings have been sanctioned and will be built soon," said Ishwar Desai, SP, Junagadh Range (Junagdh, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar).
So far, only 30 policemen from Amreli, Porbandar and Junagadh districts have received training in sea operations from the Coast Guard.
Senior officers say that at present, patrolling is being conducted jointly with the Coast Guard or by hiring private boats.