KOCHI: Lakshadweep is turning out to be a headache for agencies as foreign vessels frequently call on at Indian waters there. The Customs Department has sent reports to the Central Government alerting about vessels suspiciously anchoring close to Lakshadweep, which often go unnoticed by the police.
According to sources, there are no Customs ports in Lakshadweep and calling on at such ports without permission is illegal as per the Customs Act. The Swiss yacht called on at non-customs ports in Bangaram, Kalpenni, Agatti, Kadamat, Amini and Kavaratti Islands which was recently seized by Customs Preventive Division, Kochi, last day.
“We frequently receive information about smaller vessel calling at Indian waters close to Lakshadweep island,” sourced told Express. “Four or five such incidents are reported annually. Last year, a yacht with Eastern European crew stayed back at an island in Lakshadweep for two weeks. There was also information the crew members reached a jetty of the island. The crew had no visa or any kind of permission from the Government of India or other competent authority. However, the police in Lakshadweep did not take any action. They informed us about the incident unofficially during a meeting,” sources said.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is also concerned about the poor handling of foreign vessels by the police agencies there. “The immigration and enforcement activities are carried out by local police in Lakshadweep. However, due to lack of enough staff and other infrastructure-related issues, the arrival of foreign vessels, especially small boats like yachts illegally, often goes undetected.
More competent agencies have to be deployed in Lakshadweep area which is a strategic point of the nation,” an officer said.At the recent Coastal security meeting attended by Kerala Police, Navy, Coast Guard, Customs, Fisheries Department and IB, the matter related to foreign vessels illegally entering Kerala and Lakshadweep waters was discussed. “With more than 200 boat landing centres, more than lakh fishing boats and vast coastline, there are still concerns regarding security surveillance,” an officer said.