The terror attacks have exposed the city’s weak underbelly that is the porous coast line. The security agencies suspect that the terrorists might have taken the sea route to reach Mumbai. The terror attacks is a reason for worry for neighboring city Navi Mumbai considering that the city is the latest destination for innumerable prestigious projects seeing thousands of foreigners visiting and staying in the city. And if Mumbai was an easy target, then the unmanned coast line of Navi Mumbai will be an easier target. They came in with the most sophisticated weapons and ammunition that included MP-6, a weapon that is very difficulty to get even in the black market besides grenades and RDX and created terror in the financial capital of the country like it was child’s play. The terrorists roamed around freely with their MP-6s, AK-47s and carbines that were transported without any trouble to the city via sea; and that is why there is reason for worry for Navi Mumbai – the city that houses the Seawoods Estate NRI Complex, Dirubhai Ambani Knowledge City and has several multi-crore projects like the SEZs and airport lined up. These projects see thousands of foreign nationals coming over and staying in the city. And the unmanned coastline of Navi Mumbai poses as an open invitation. Not to forget- the unmanned coastal belt of Navi Mumbai has been taken advantage of to execute terror activities in the past as well. The RDX transported to Mumbai through the sea during the ’93 Mumbai Blasts was through the Raigad coast. And despite the state knowing this for a fact, nothing has been done to man the coastline in Navi Mumbai. The situation is perhaps more serious than one imagines since the city has vital installations like Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation, JNPT, ONGC, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and even the RBI facing the Arabian Sea. What’s more concerning – according to sources the Seawoods Estate NRI Complex touches the coastline on its backyard from where one can locate the BARC. In fact, the National Security Advisor has already warned that BARC is on the terror list. All this underlines the grave danger Navi Mumbai faces since its vast coastline is completely unmanned. The immediate and logical reaction to the emergence of such a threat should have been for the states concerned to establish marine police units operating from coastal stations, and equipped with high-speed boats, weapons and communication sets. Of even greater criticality is the establishment of an intelligence set-up which has the ingenuity to penetrate home-grown terrorist organizations for advance warning. Unfortunately, till date the state is no where close to having done any of this. What many do not know is that neither the Indian Navy nor Coastal Guard are assigned specific roles to man the sea. So who is to mind the vulnerable coastline at home-fronts like Mumbai and Navi Mumbai? The responsibility to protect our seashore falls squarely on the shoulders of the state administration which must create marine police wings, backed by sound local intelligence if it is at all serious about the security of innocent citizens who pay the price of their failure. Question is “Will politicians living under constant police cover and security” understand the fear that citizens in the city will live in for a long time post terror Wednesday.
November 1, 2017