Kendrapara: Even as three years have passed since the state government wrote to the Centre highlighting the need for formation of a Coastal India Reserve Battalion (CIRB) to man the vast stretches of coastline in the country and the state, the proposal is yet to become a reality, a report said.
As a result, coastal security in the state still remains vulnerable to terrorist threat, drug smuggling, illegal fishing and infiltration in the absence of a separate force to man the coastline.
Reports said that the state government wrote to the Union Home Minister in 2017 urging him to give approval for formation of the separate battalion to man the vast coastlines in the state.
In the letter, the then additional secretary, Asit Kumar Tripathy had advanced the reason behind formation of a separate force for coastal security in the state.
He had stated that the formation of a separate force will greatly help the marine police stations in the state to keep the illegal activities in the sea waters under check. Since then, three years have passed but the Centre is yet to make its intention clear on this proposal.
A resident Matrudutt Mohanty said that the state has 480-km-long coastline out of which 48 km lies alone in Kendrapara district. The marine police stations like Talachua, Tantiapal and Jambu have been established along these coastlines in this district.
However, these police stations are always plagued by staff crunch and lack of proper infrastructure which has severely hit their functioning. As a result, infiltration into the district through sea route has increased in recent days as these police officials do not have boats to move in the sea.
Notably, 1237 refugees were rehabilitated in the remote areas of the district during the India-Pakistan war for liberation of Bangladesh. Their numbers have grown exponentially since then which now stand at over 76,000.
Similarly, people infiltrating into the district through sea-routes have set their eyes on Bhitarkanika National Park. This problem will be resolved to a great extent if the CIRB is formed and deployed in the state.
Another resident Amarbar Biswal said that police busted a fake radio station at Banipal near Bhitarkanika in 2001 which was found broadcasting secret defence details about the Wheeler Island, the missile testing centre of DRDO.
Similarly, people in a fishing trawler, which was seized by the Rajnagar forest department, shot dead a forest guard in 2002. An exchange of fire also took place between the forest officials and fishermen illegally fishing in the sea water near the Olive Ridley nesting site of Gahirmatha.
Similar reports of arms, drugs and fake currency smuggling is nothing new in this area. Therefore, it is high time the CIRB should be formed which will help in keeping a check on all these illegal activities.
Social activist Pratap Chandra Padhi said several Bangladeshi boats have been seized during last three years if we go by the seizure list of forest department. This year alone, over 10 fishing boats have been seized for straying into the sea waters near Gahirmatha.
The infiltrator are earning in lakhs through poaching in Bhitarkanika, encroachment of forest land and by establishing illegal prawn gheries. He said the formation of CIRB is highly essential for coastal security as well as for upkeep of the bio-diversity in Bhitarkanika.
When contacted, ASP Brahmananda Gagarin Mohanty admitted that establishment of CIRB is essential for coastal security while stating that the marine police station have proved useful in checking infiltration to some extent.