Proposed harbour at Arcottuthurai yet to take off
Smuggling of narcotics along Vedaranyam coast has raised its head at periodic intervals, exposing chinks in the armour of Marine Police.
A few days ago, for instance, Marine Police arrested a suspected narcotics smuggler along the coast and seized a consignment of 34 kg of ganja that was on its way to Sri Lanka.
There was a similar case some months ago in the limits of Vedaranyam Marine Police Station, according to official sources.
Despite its proximity to Sri Lanka along the Nagapattinam coastline extending to 185-km stretch, Vedaranyam Marine Police Station has not been equipped with patrol boats as yet.
The jeep and two-wheelers at the station are also reportedly not in good working condition. And most of the 11 checkposts do not function well due to paucity of manpower.
According to police sources, each marine police station has to be provided with two patrol boats — five tonne and 12-tonne — to carry out patrolling to a distance of 12 nautical miles from the coastline.
According to an official in the Coastal Security Group, there is technical difficulty in sanctioning boats for Vedaranyam in the absence of a jetty. Due to this factor, patrolling is carried out with rented boats at distant intervals.
The possibility for any surprise operation does not exist in the absence of high-speed patrol boats.
The 12-tonne boat, for instance, has twin engines, each with a capacity of 575 hp that can attain a top speed of 70 km (40 plus knots).
Although the mandate of Marine Police is to carry out patrolling up to 12 nautical miles from the coast, they rarely go beyond six nautical miles using the rented boats.
Last year, the government made an allotment of ₹1.5 crore for preparing a Detailed Project Report for the proposed harbour at Arcottuthurai near Vedaranyam.
There has been no forward movement on the project that envisages construction of main breakwater, leeward breakwater, diaphragm wall and finger jetties.
The visibility of Vedaranyam Marine Police gets reflected mostly at the time of mock coastal security exercises conducted in coordination with the Indian Coast Guard and other stakeholder agencies once in six months to check the preparedness of security agencies to prevent/intercept intrusions from sea.
As such, the limited solace is in intelligence-sharing. Personnel of the Coastal Security Group work in liaison with the Navy, Coast Guard, Local Police, Fisheries Department, Customs and Revenue Authorities in gathering intelligence on coastal security.
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