KOCHI: The Customs Department is looking to deploy its unit in Lakshadweep considering the rising importance of the islands recently. Customs officers believe if a unit is deployed at the island, its surveillance and enforcement activities can be enhanced on the western side of the nation.
A proposal in this regard has been sent to the Central Government a few months ago. For this, the ports in Lakshadweep have to be declared as Customs area. “We have sought a unit to be deployed at Lakshadweep. The government after considering the proposal has sought a clarification whether there are enough vessels reaching Lakshadweep to start a unit there. A clarification about the importance of having a unit in Lakshadweep was given to the government again,” sources said. Cargo vessels from Kerala and other states reach Lakshadweep on a regular basis.
“We don’t have any unit that can check whether any smuggling of contraband is taking place. There are several small boats operating from smaller ports in Kerala. Search at mid-sea with available manpower is not possible now. If our men are deployed at Lakshadweep, they can ensure no such illegal activity is taking place,” an officer said. Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar confirmed a request was sent to the Central Government for having a Customs unit in Lakshadweep.
“We are carrying out discussions in this regard. The matter was taken up at the highest level to expedite the procedures,” he said.Recently, the Customs Preventive unit had seized a Swiss yacht that entered Lakshadweep without permission. Already, the Customs receives frequent information that foreign vessels are entering Indian territorial waters, especially at Lakshadweep,without permission. Additionally, Customs preventive wing will get a new marine unit at Kollam. The marine unit will be deployed at Kollam and will operate in the coastline from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam.