BHUBANESWAR: With barely 10 days to go, an elaborate three-layer coastal security ring has been thrown along the shoreline as Odisha braces for one of its grandest Nabakalebara festivals.
Three Dornier aircraft have been deployed to keep a watch on the coast during the all important religious festival. Two of these will operate from Biju Patnaik International Airport, while the third is stationed at Kolkata.
Since the challenge to prevent entry of anti-nationals using the sea-routes is palpable, the Government has mobilised resources to keep a tight watch on the marine waters. Apart from the three aircraft, the Indian Navy has mobilised a vessel with helicopter docking facility.
Three Coast Guard vessels will also be on watch 24x7. All these will be keeping surveillance on marine waters, beyond the limits of marine police stations of the State. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also reviewed the coastal security arrangements on Tuesday.
To constantly monitor the marine waters, four coastal police stations have been made operational in Puri district’s Astarang, Ramchandi, Penthakata and Arakhakuda. Since these police stations did not have man-power, the State Police has mobilised 48 personnel on deputation from other districts till the Nabakalebara festival is over. Besides, one four-wheeler and two two-wheelers to each of the four police stations have also been provided.
According to Additional Director General of Police Binayanand Jha, who is in charge of coastal security, two five-tonner fast interceptor boats (FIBs) have been stationed at Nature’s Club at Ramchandi. These boats are being manned by 19 technical persons who previously served Indian Navy and Coast Guard. A 10-tonner FIB will be placed at Astarang where the water is deep. It will arrive from Paradip on sea-route once the low pressure formed over north Bay of Bengal subsides. Besides, more than 250 life guards will be pressed at Puri beach during the festival.
However, the sea waters are not the only areas the State Police is looking at. It has been keeping a watch on shoreline villages located under 18 marine police limits since these are soft spots for anti-nationals, smugglers and illegal fishing.
“We have been identifying residents and issuing bio-metric ID cards so that they can be verified as and when necessary. So far, 1,52,662 ID cards have been issued,” Jha informed. Another 1.5 lakh villages have been identified and card distribution will start once Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) supplies the cards.
To verify the authenticity of the ID cards and holders, the corporation has provided 50 hand-held reader devices to be used by marine police stations and Fisheries Department officials. To train field staff about the card-reader handling, a training programme was organised under the chairmanship of Jha at Cuttack on Wednesday.