India has 31 Marine Immigration check Posts (ICPs) and none of them work with proper infrastructure, with almost zero dust-free work place, electrical fittings or monitoring screens even as nine more are in the pipleline in the Northeast, a Parliamentary Standing Committee has found.
Sometimes, the immigration work is done in adhoc counters in jetties far away from the main Port complext where installation of equipment and leased line for connectivity is “not feasible”. Four river port based immigration check posts on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam — Dhubri, Pandu, Karimraj and Nagaon — have “no infrastructure available”.
Ten of these 31 marine immigrations posts are under the Bureau of Immigration, while the rest are under the state governments.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs that all seaport immigration check posts face problems of infrascture facilities, electrical fittings and poor upkeep of space allotted to the BOI.
For the sophisticated equipment and Information Technology infrastructure needed for the immigration mechanism, the MHA told the panel that a dust-free and temperature-controlled environment is needed. The MHA has requested the Ministry of Shipping to provide it but it appears that the immigration officials are still not working in a conducive environment.
“Inadequate office is provided to BOI for conducting immigration functions, that too in open jetties far away from the main Port office complex. Passengers are brought to jetties away from the main establishment of Port and Immigration is asked to set up adhoc counters where installation of equipment and leased line for connectivity is not feasible,” the report said.
The MHA also complained about various ports raising bills to BOI for payment of licence fees, electricity bills, water charges and penal interest “without considering the fact that immigration is a sovereign function and have been exempted from the same”. The MHA has several times taken up the issue with Ministry of Shipping but the issue “remains unresolved” with the Port Trusts.
In its report, the panel headed Congress Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma said that he was “astonished to note that the majority of the marine immigration posts lack of adequate infrastructure facilities like building space, electricity/water connections, monitoring screens, canopy etc”.
The panel asked the MHA to take up the matter on a priority basis with the Ministry of Shipping and various port trusts to prepare a time-bound plan with projected outlays for the infrastructure development of these facilities.
“Modernisation and development of infrastructure development available at marine ICPs and that should be done to bring them at par with the best of the world,” it said. (