Colours of Kala Pani – 35 years old story by a police officer

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H P S Virk

While managing assignment of airport security, immigration, foreigner’s, crime and special branch relished many experiences outside the purview of normal policing. Got chance to closely view the drilling operations undertaken for search of oil and gas reserves. Presumably Andaman and Nicobar rests on a potential shelf of abundant crude and natural gas embedded in depths of its seabed.

Myanmar (Burma) neighbor towards North East and Indonesia towards South are blessed with abundance of this valuable material.The same trail of hydrocarbons streams down towards Sumatra and Java Islands.

Irrawaddy, the Ganges of Burma (2210 kms.) roaring through oil rich basin boosts the blooming of bumper crop of rice, before emptying into North Andaman Sea.

Down below the Gulf of Martaban, yields a rich supply of gas, exported to China and Thailand (estimated over 18 trillion cubic feet). Infact long back in 1853, first barrel of crude oil across the globe rolled out for export from Burma, there after BOC came into existence. May be who knows in 22nd Century use of hydrocarbon fuel becomes totally redundant.

Landfall is the North most Island of Andamans, just 20 kms. across the channel are a string of six tiny controversial Burmese Islands known as Coco Islands, housing a well established naval base. Atwood Oceanic’s offshore drilling company headquartered in Houston, Texas was entrusted this crucial drilling expedition. A few dozen highly dedicated professionals operated this rig stationed towards North East of Havelock Island.Their International crew worked for two weeks and had two weeks of leave for going back to their countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and America.

For ”security and secrecy” reasons their mode of transport was restricted to MI 8 IAF flights from Port Blair. We attended to immigration and allied requirements of our adorable guests. Every weekend of Phoenix bay, Jetties, Circuit house, Naval Hqs., Harbour, Chatham sawmill, Mt. Harriet (1257 ft.), Neil, Havelock, Sir Huge Ross Island etc. offered a enjoyable picturesque layout. Towards North East, lay the fabled mystique Barren Island, appeared to be pounded by huge seas waves, enclosing within its bosum the history of innumerable intermittent fiery volcanic eruptions since ages.

My experience on board passenger liners, cruise ships, defence craft, tugs, oil rigs indicates that crew relished nutritious culinary delights while dwelling in dull and drab sea atmosphere.

On one occasion , to be in the better books of my seniors , invited them on flight to this foreign rig, however it proved to be a damp squid. Sensibilities of all persons are formed according to individual mental makeups, depending on education, upbringing, prevailing environmental conditions plus several extraneous influences.

Ageing also triggers some crucial changes in our mentality, these might appear beneficial for us but a bane for our close associates and friends.

During past few decades there has been a spurt of exploration and exploitation of undersea resources lying embedded deep below the surface of Indian Ocean.

After dawn of 21st Century, a heightened Chinese presence sprouted in South China Sea and Malacca Strait regions. Both, diplomatic and strong arm tactics have been employed by mighty Asian dragon to decimate the regional influence of Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Indonesia.

Bay of Bengal is strategically important, on account of its commanding position in Indian Ocean, plus being a potential reservoir of huge deposits of oil, natural gas and abundance of lucrative marine life.

Now specially with adoption of lackadaisical flip-flop in defence policy of US, China is eyeing for a big role in form of a regional ringmaster.

India left with no alternative choice, but to powerfully counter the red herring moves of foxy China.

Gone are the days of “moats and forts”, when adversaries unaware about each others strength and weaknesses played lengthy war games of hide and seek. Nowadays deployments are monitored minutely by satellites, even number of rice grains on a sheaf of rice plant growing in a remote village of Vietnam can accurately counted from space.