Odisha coastal security in peril as jetty building hits land wall

When Union Home ministry has asked Odisha to expedite land acquisition for building jetties, the State asked the Centre for a hike in budgetary allocation for jetty construction

Bhubaneswar: While Odisha government has acknowledged the threat perception from across the shores, the big revelation is the State government is yet to bring up a single exclusive jetty to berth 12-tonne interceptor boats till date.

Jetties are the lifeline of coastal security system. Because, jetties provide berthing facility for the 12 tonnes interceptor boats. So, in times of exigency, the boats can resume its operation swiftly from the jetty. But it seems in order to avoid the land acquisition costs, the State government is reluctant to initiate land acquisition for constructing exclusive jetties for its marine police stations.

Odisha currently has 18 marine police stations and 5 jetties have been sanctioned for the State. But none of the jetties could become operational till date.

Even when land has been identified for two jetties (Astaranga and Paradip), the full-fledged jetties there are yet to see the light of the day.

The reason: The land acquisition process has either hit the forest clearance wall or been held up for delay in estimate preparation and approval at the higher levels.

For which, during the annual review of Coastal Security System (CSS) – II in 2018-19, the Union Home Ministry had asked the Odisha Government to expedite the process.

However, Odisha Government has reiterated its stand it took before the Parliamentary Standing Committee earlier. As per Odisha government, the sanctioned cost of Rs 50 lakh per jetty is very meagre. “In order to build a small 70 metre jetty, the real cost will be around Rs 5 crore,” said a senior police official. He further added that the State is yet to receive around half of the sanctioned twenty six 12 tonne interceptor boats.

The  CSS – II is a 100 per cent centrally funded scheme. And under the scheme a sum of Rs 2.5 crore has been sanctioned to the Odisha government for jetty construction but the utilisation has been nil, reveals a recent report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coastal Security.

Odisha has a coastline of around 477 km. And the State has 2 major ports, besdies several critical and vital installations like Wheeler Island (DRDO installation) in Bhadrak district, Interim Test Range (ITR) and Proof & Experiment Establishment (P&EE), Chandipur in Balasore district. Even, the 12th century Jagannath Temple (Puri) has a high threat perception.

Significantly, the State government’s seriousness for the scheme stands exposed as it has given sanction for only 45 per cent of the required manpower for the marine police stations. And the worse is in-position manpower stood at mere 25 per cent of the sanctioned posts.