KOCHI: Customs units in Kerala get all new satellite communication systems to enhance information sharing even from places where mobile phones and radio handsets do not work. Starting with its marine Units, Customs will equip all its units with satellite phones in the coming months.
Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said seven new satellite phones have been received so far. “We have received modern satellite phones recently and it would be operational in a week. First, we will equip the marine units as communication at a distance off the shore was an issue. Then, we will equip the land-based formations with similar phones especially the units that work at inter-state borders,” he said.
Kumar said vessels with the satellite phone will improve surveillance. The satellite communication system will help in coordinating with other agencies like the Navy and the Coast Guard. Customs will soon have a new marine preventive based at Kollam. Currently, there are two Marine Preventive Units operational from Beypore and Kochi. “The growth of marine traffic through the coast of Kerala has prompted the authorities to start new Marine Preventive unit.
Currently, the Marine Unit stationed in Kochi has to cover the coast from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram. The units are trained to intercept, board and search suspicious vessels for contraband like drugs, fake currencies, arms and explosives,” an officer said.
A proposal has been sent to higher authorities including the Ministry of Finance to start customs unit in Lakshadweep. Currently, there are no customs units stationed in Lakshadweep making it vulnerable to smuggling. There has been no customs notified ports in Lakshadweep and there have been reports vessels violating the norms dock close to Lakshadweep island frequently.