Police get better building at Elephanta island after years
In an effort to provide better facilities to the on duty officials and to make Elephanta Island safer at night, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has constructed a building for Navi Mumbai police on the island.
Until now, every morning, three constables from the police station used to leave for the island in private boats and return in the evening. The island remains unguarded at night due to lack of proper facilities for the cops.
For the past several years, the police had been running a police station from a dilapidated house on the island with a few broken chairs. It also had no water connection. “The MMB demolished that house and constructed the new building on the same plot. The construction was completed around two weeks ago but since we were busy with the bandobast for Ganeshotsav, the inauguration of the building got delayed. It will be formally inaugurated in a few days,” said Jairaj Chhapariya, senior police inspector of Mora police station.
The island, located10 kms off Mumbai, comes under the Navi Mumbai police commissionerate and is looked after by Mora coastal police station. Around 4,000 tourists, including many foreigners, visit the island every day for the famous caves and this number increases during weekends and festivals like Christmas and New Years.
Security on the island was beefed up after terrorists killed 20 people in a Dhaka restaurant in June. However, after a few weeks, staff crunch led to reduction in the number of police personnel deployed there.
Asked how only three constables are expected to safeguard so many people, a senior officer said, “It is true that we have a lot to do for safety and security of the tourists and the local residents of the island. But the problem is we too do not have the required manpower in our police station. Still we send five to seven people during the weekends and other festivals.” The old run-down building hardly looked like a police station.
“We have also decided to keep at least two officials with firearms there at night. We will see what else we can do to increase police vigilance on the island,” he added.
Lack of police boats for the island is another big issue. A senior officer from the Navi Mumbai special branch said, “It is true that our constables use private boats to go to the island, but we have never faced any problem because of this. During emergency, we take speed boats from Reti Bunder in Belapur to go there. We are also conducting regular mock drills, meetings with the villagers, local shop keepers to ensure safety of the people at the island. Likewise, we also have groups of volunteers to keep us updated about the recent happenings there.”