India to increase port security in wake of Mumbai attacks

HALDIA, Dec. 2: Terrorist attack on Mumbai hotels has brought to the fore security lapses at ports and other vulnerable areas. Since the East Midnapore district administration owns a port in Haldia, a fishing harbour in Sankarpur and popular sea beaches at Digha, it has finally decided on strengthening its security infrastructure in these areas to fend off any potential terrorist attack here.

In a meeting with industry representatives and Coast Guard officers held in Haldia yesterday, it was unanimously resolved that a Special Task Force comprising one circle-inspector, four sub-inspectors and 30 constables would be formed immediately. This Task Force will monitor the security system in all industries of the region and sensitive zones along the riverine stretches, national highways and other points of entry to ports and industries in Haldia.

The district administration has already approached the state government about this matter so that action can be taken as soon as possible Apart from this, every industry in Haldia will have to keep sniffer dogs on the premises to check vehicles and baggage for explosives as part of operations to improve security. These canines will be travelling from terminal to terminal on a random schedule, patrolling car line-ups and baggage areas. Moreover, housing X-ray scanning machines and web-cameras are mandatory for all industries for their internal security, said Mr Srikumar Taraphdar, additional district magistrate (Haldia).

In the meeting, it was also decided that the district administration will set up a few check posts at some of the vulnerable areas, like Brajalalchawk and BC Ray crossing on NH-41. This arrangement has been necessitated to check vehicles which enter into the industrial belt.

Apart from these preliminary measures, all the electricity deprived areas in the industrial belt and riversides will be illuminated by halogen lights. Continuous police surveillance will also be kept everyday. Since terrorists are infiltrating through sea routes, the Indian Coast Guard, Customs, Coastal Security Police and Central Industrial Security Force will immediately initiate joint patrolling of shallow and territorial waters off the Haldia coast. This marine surveillance will continue on a regular basis. In addition, the department of ports and fisheries has been asked to accelerate the process of issuing identity cards to fishermen by 31 December.

On realising that sending advisories to departments and industries concerned will not be enough, Mr Taraphdar said: We will conduct another meeting with Coast Guards, CISF and Fisheries on 4 December to ensure proper coordination among them for better coastal security. We will also discuss other security related plans on that day.