Kendra Para: It has been five years since the Orissa government sent a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting permission to form a special police battalion to increase security along the state’s 480 km coastline. However, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has not yet responded. The then-admiral Asit Kumar Tripathy said in a letter that the proposed establishment of the Coastal Indian Reserve Battalion (CIRB) would help supplement the Coast Guard’s efforts to increase security along the coastline. Local residents of the town, including Radhakanta Mohanty, said 48 km of the 480 km long coastline passes through the Kendrapara district. Marine police stations in Talachua, Tantiapal and Jambu are set up to keep the coastline safe.
However, the lack of proper infrastructure and manpower hamper its functioning. These police stations do not have boats to patrol the coastline, so break-ins are rampant on a daily basis. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, a total of 1,237 refugees from Bangladesh were rehabilitated by the Orissa state government in a remote area of Kendrapala district.
However, that number has increased tremendously since then, and there are now 76,000 Bengali-speaking people living in the area. These settlers are causing major problems for Bitarkanika National Park, which is home to saltwater crocodiles, various species of wildlife, reptiles, birds, and mangrove plantations. They cleared the green cover of vast tracts of land to establish shrimp gellies. According to local residents, the problem can be solved once the CIRB is installed and deployed in the area. Amarbar Biswal, an elderly man in the town, said police discovered a fake radio station in his Banipal in 2001, in the forest of Bhitarkanika.
Investigation revealed that it was being used to transmit top-secret defense secrets regarding Wheeler Island (now Abdul Kalam Island), where the country tests its newly developed missiles. In 2002, thugs involved in illegal fishing shot and killed a guard after the Rajnagar Forest Authority attempted to seize a fishing trawler. In another incident, a Coast Guard member was caught in a shootout with some fishermen who were illegally catching fish in the prohibited area of the Gahilmasa Marine Reserve in 2019. Investigations have revealed that the coastline is riddled with potholes and a gateway for all kinds of illegal activity. Firearms, counterfeit banknotes, drug smuggling, etc.
Locals said the establishment of the CIRB would help reduce illegal activities. Social activist Pratap Chandra Padhi reported that several boats from Bangladesh had been seized during raids by the Forest Department over the past three years. This year he had ten ships seized in November alone. He added that this shows how illicit activities are flourishing. Mr Padi argued that the establishment of CIRB is essential for the security of India and the protection of Vitalkanika wildlife. He contacted SDPO’s Mr. Jayant Mohapatra and said that the establishment of CIRB is urgent. He added that the intrusion was checked to some extent after the establishment of the Maritime Police Station.