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Grounded Pavit exposes holes in coastal security

Aug 04, 2011 08:31 PM IST India India

Mumbai: MT Pavit, a small ship mysteriously grounded at Mumbai's Versova Beach, has literally turned into a giant jigsaw puzzle for India's coastal security agencies. Having not even a blip on the security radar, while it was adrift towards Mumbai for a month, has left alarm bells ringing.

The ship owner claimed Pavit had sunk off the Oman coast on June 29 due to water ingress in its engine room. But the big question is - if it sank, how did it drift for hundreds of nautical miles and landed at Mumbai?

Also, how none of the hundreds of ships in the busy Indian Ocean spot Pavit drfiting at an odd speed of two nautical miles for almost a month? No SOS was received by the DG Shipping, even when Somali pirates are very active in these waters.

Moreover, not only in the international waters, but it went undetected for more than 100 hours even in India's immediate waters, where the Navy, Coastguard or the Marine Police should have spotted it.

A December 2008 Defence Ministry note to the Cabinet Committee on Security, perhaps holds the answer to the question - why did Pavit go undetected?

After 26/11, expeditious and time-bound installation of a chain of Static Coastal Radars and Automatic Identification System for day and night surveillance was ordered at a cost of Rs 350 crore in 2008. The sophisticated electro-optical equipment was to be installed on at least 38 light houses along the coastline, with radars that can detect and transmit data to the Base Stations for real-time monitoring of India's waters.

But, stuck in red tape, even three years after 26/11, the radars have not been installed.

Investigators have told CNN-IBN that there is more to the Pavit episode, than what meets the eye. They fear its surreptitious month-long journey and subsequent grounding at Mumbai could be dangerous in view of the terror threat perception.