Giving a major boost to coastal security in the country, the Central government this week issued a notification for formation of 10 coastal police stations in the coastal states of the country with jurisdiction over Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Till now, India had only one coastal police station, Mumbai’s Yellow Gate police station, which had jurisdiction over all the crimes committed in India’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones) in the west coast and east coast. This included crimes of piracy in the high seas, investigation of any apprehensions made by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, any other major and minor crimes. Waters up to 12 nautical miles are called “territorial waters”, whereas waters from 12 nautical miles to 225 nautical miles are categorised as “Exclusive Economic Zone”, over which a country has sovereign rights.
“This is a welcome step. It will reduce the pendency of cases. Till now, all crimes in high seas, including cases of Somalian piracy, had to be registered in the Yellow Gate police station. Now, that will not be the case anymore,” Maharashtra Director General of Police Praveen Dixit told The Sunday Guardian.
The 10 police stations notified in the Government of India Gazette on 14 June are: Navibandar Coastal police station in Porbandar for crimes in EEZ in Gujarat; Yellow Gate police station in Mumbai for crimes in EEZ in Maharashtra and Daman & Diu; Harbour Coastal Security police station, Harbour, Mormugao for Goa; Mangalore Coastal Security police station in Dakshin Kannada for Karnataka; Fort Kochi Coastal police station in Kochi for Kerala and Lakshadweep; B5 Harbour police station in Chennai for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry; Gilakaladindi in Machalipatnam for Andhra Pradesh; Paradeep Marine police station in Jagatsinghpur for Odisha; Nayachar Coastal police station in Purba Medinipur for West Bengal; and Central Crimes Station in Port Blair for Andaman and Nicobar islands. These 10 police stations will have jurisdiction over the “Exclusive Economic Zone”, which is up to 225 nautical miles into the sea. Till now, the local police stations on the coast had jurisdiction over 12 nautical miles from the coast. Maharashtra alone has 40 such police stations which look after crimes in territorial waters. Any crimes beyond 12 nautical miles up to 225 nautical miles fell exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Yellow Gate police station.
“This is a great decision. It will reduce a lot of burden on us,” Sunita Salunke Thakre, Deputy Police Commissioner, Port Zone, told The Sunday Guardian.
Talking about the need for creating more coastal police stations to handle the burden of crimes in India’s EEZ, Pradeep Gupta, Joint Secretary, Union Home Department, said, “No other agency in the country has the power to investigate. This power lies only with the police which come under the state governments. Irrespective of whether the Navy or the Coast Guard takes someone in charge for any criminal activities, they have to hand them over to the police. Till now, only the Yellow Gate police station had to look after all these cases. This overburdened them due to the load of investigation. Therefore, the Central government interfered to increase coastal security.”
He said that the Central government was also in the process of issuing “Standard Operating Procedures” which have to be followed by the coastal state governments for the recruitment of coastal police.
This week, the Union Home Minister presided over a meeting of all the coastal states in Mumbai. The conference was convened to review coastal security measures. Many coastal states supported Maharashtra government’s suggestion for creating a specialised Central force to take care of coastal patrolling. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recommended that since marine policing is a specialised job, a Central Marine Police Force should be created to protect sea, coast, ports and vital institutions. He also suggested that all landing points and non major ports should be brought under tech based e-surveillance. The Central government has given in-principle approval to the concept.