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Private yachts come under scanner

Makarand Gadgil in Mumbai | December 09, 2008 09:56 IST

In 180 minor ports across India, there is no check on the movement of vessels.

Yachts and luxury boats belonging to Mumbai's rich and famous have come under the scanner of intelligence agencies after the 26/11 terror attacks. The agencies are pleading with government authorities to take appropriate steps to plug the loopholes in the law to ensure these yachts are registered either with the central government or state government authorities so that they are not misused by ferry men or used for anti-national activities.

Speaking with Business Standard, a senior Intelligence Bureau official said that commercial liners are registered with the director general of shipping and smaller coastal or inland water vessels are registered with the state maritime boards. But due to technical reasons, neither authority is willing to register these yachts with them.

"As they are not registered with any authority, there is no checking of the log books, verification of the men working on it and this is a major area of concern for us," the official said.

In fact, last year two Frenchmen, who had come in a private yacht, simply walked into Mumbai just like the terrorists did after parking their boat at the Gateway of India [Images]. However, as they were not fluent in English, they lost their way and the police got to know about them and they were arrested and deported.

"But if you are well-versed in English or our national language, you can simply walk into the city through the sea and stay for as long as you like and carry out activities you wish to without any check," he said with apprehension.

When contacted, Chief Port Officer of the Maharashtra Maritime Board J B Rohila said that vessels under 15 tonnes have been given exemption and so they are not registered with any authority.

Director General of Indian National Ship Owners Association Shashank Kulkarni said, "The movement of a ship is regulated and keenly watched by the Harbour Master in major ports like Mumbai, JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust), Kandla etc but in the 180 minor ports across India, where state governments are expected to keep vigil, there is no check on movement of vessels and this issue needs to be addressed to strengthen the security of our coasts."



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