NSB: Deployment of CISF compulsory in all ports

Bhubaneswar: The National Shipping Board (NSB) has sought compulsory deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in all ports of the country to ward off threats from subversive elements from sea.

"At present, CISF personnel are deployed only in major ports as part of security measures, while minor ports and those in the private sector are not covered under the arrangement," NSB Chairman P V K Mohan told reporters here.

In order to tighten security at all ports to prevent subversive activities and incidents like 26/11, the board on Saturday decided to make a formal recommendation to the central government to take steps for compulsory deployment of CISF at all ports.

"An effective and uniform security arrangement should be put in place to step up surveillance and prevent any form of threat from the sea route, taking into consideration the existing scenario in the region," Mohan said at the 118th meeting of the board held here.

"CISF will be the right choice to look after security in and around all the ports, as deployment of the force at airports has proved to be quite effective," he said.

Advocating a four-layer security ring for the ports, Director General of Shipping, S B Agnihotri said it should cover different requirements, starting from stationary assets and coastline, to ships entering and sailing out of ports. "It will be proper if one agency is entrusted the job," he said.

Mohan and Agnihotri said as many as 750 CISF personnel have just undergone a training programme on marine operations at a naval establishment.

Terming pollution as a major challenge in ports, the NSB Chairman said the issue was discussed threadbare at the board meeting. "Every port must be armed with modern equipment, know-how and trained manpower to check pollution in accordance with tier-1 norms," he said.

The board also mooted a separate Indian Maritime Service (IMS) cadre in line with IAS, IPS and other central services.

A concept paper on introduction of such a service would be prepared and forwarded to the government for implementation, he said.

Further discussion would be held at length regarding the proposed IMS at the next NSB meeting slated to be held in April, before a formal recommendation, along with a concept paper, is sent to the government, the board chief said.

On the need for checking smuggling of goods, he said different ports should ensure proper and regular exchange of information amongst themselves.

Those showing reluctance in providing relevant information in this regard should be made to adopt a positive approach, he said, adding, information from customs authorities would also play a significant role in containing smuggling activities to a great extent.

While favouring rationalisation of taxation system, the board underlined the need for putting in place an effective inspection regime to deal with problems like wreck removal and oil pollution, Mohan said.

An international convention in this regard is likely to come into force soon, he added. The NSB also favoured concrete steps to increase the number of Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) offices at ports in the country.