Parliament committee fumes over lack of port security

Eight years after one of the most horrific terror attacks on Indian soil, the Parliament Committee on Home Affairs made a scathing observation on the country’s coastal security. The committee in its report has said that despite the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, 187 minor ports of the country still lack standard security cover. The committee strongly recommended regular security audit be carried out at minor ports along with major ports.MHA while partially disagreeing, told the committee that the security audit done through IB revealed that out of 203 non-major and minor ports, 45 were non-operational, while 75 have no security force,while many of these ports, though non-operational, were used as fish landing points or jetties.

IB pointed out the list of non-major ports: 21 in Gujarat, 9 in Maharashtra, 5 in Andhra Pradesh, 2 in Karnataka, 6 in Tamil Nadu, 2 in Puducherry and 1 each in Goa, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Kerala and Odisha. MHA admitted that as per the security audit, there were several short comings in the existing security arrangements like non-availability of X-ray machine, non-maintenance of incoming and outgoing communication. Based on this, IB made several recommendations which have now been shared with state governments:

•    Adequate number of CCTV’s should be installed at ports to carry out surveillance
•    Mock drills to be carried out periodically
•    Speed breakers may be constructed inside and outside all gates
•    8 digit alphanumerical passwords to be used in operation of personal computer
•    Bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) should be made available at port
•    Port should be declared as a Prohibited Area for fishing
•    X-ray scanners be made available.
•    Proper record of foreigners with details of passport and visa should be maintained, random checking of tiffin box, setting up of watch towers, patrol tracks to be set up, contingency plan for oil spillage to be vetted by Indian Coast guard.
•    Meanwhile there is a need for basic infrastructure like boundary wall or fencing, access control mechanism, anti-sabotage check mechanism, force to guard sea front security