Disaster in waiting? Your monorail ride is under threat from tankers
The city’s newest mode of transport is not as secure as it seems to be. While the Monorail opened to the public with much fanfare on February 2, the train passes over sensitive areas, such as oil filling stations and petrol pumps.
Oil’s not well: Tankers parked under the Monorail corridor near Mysore Colony station. Pic/Suresh KK
MiD DAY took a ride on the Monorail between Wadala and Chembur and observed that a long row of oil tankers are parked just under the tracks near the Mysore Colony station, raising serious questions about how secure the trains moving above are.
Oil oil, everywhere: Tankers parked right under the Monorail corridor near Mysore Colony station have raised security concerns. Pic/Suresh KK
Security experts and the police are concerned over the issue. The Protection and Security department of the Mumbai Police had suggested several security measures to the Mumbai Metropolitan Rail Development Authority (MMRDA), the body that developed the Monorail project. “The train passes over several Bharat Petroleum tankers. A godown of cylinders belonging to Hindustan Petroleum is also near the tracks,” said a police officer. While no one can throw anything out of the train, since its doors close automatically and open only at stations, any mishap or stray spark near the tankers may trigger an explosion, which will directly affect the thousands of passengers travelling above the trucks.
Cops say the MSSC and private guards don’t have the experience to detect explosives. File Pic
A senior police officer mentioned another problem. The Monorail doesn’t have baggage scanners or explosive detectors at stations. This reporter’s bag was only checked superficially with a scanner. But any object concealed within a box wouldn’t be detected by the device.
As suggested by the cops, the MMRDA deployed guards, dog squads, placed CCTV cameras, installed Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMDs) at every station. However, these guards are from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC). These men are largely untrained — they have undergone only a brief training course.
A total of 144 such guards have been deployed across all stations, along with other private security guards. “MSSC is a semi-government body and these guards lack training. The public hardly listens to them. The MMRDA had plans to deploy the Central Industrial Security Force, which already guards the Delhi Metro, and is responsible for VIP security and disaster management,” a police officer told MiD DAY. The lack of experience shows. “Private security guards, at the end of the day, are watchmen. Security forces should have retired army or police officers. Untrained, unemployed men can never detect explosives carried by a person,” stated Aftab Ahmad Khan, a former Indian Police Service officer.
144: Total number of unarmed guards on Monorail
96: Total number of armed guards on Monorail
40: Total number of female guards
140: Total number of private guards
20: Total number of supervisors for the private guards
Joint Project Director Dilip Kawathkar clarified on the problem of oil tankers, saying, “I will check on the same. If petroleum companies are parking their vehicles under the Monorail corridor, we will instruct them not to do so.”
MMRDA officials added that they had invited tenders for the supply of X-Ray Baggage Inspection Systems (BIS) and Hand-held Explosive Detectors (HHED).
PRK Murthy, chief of the transport and communication division, MMRDA, confirmed, “We had called for tenders for BIS and HHED in the last week of January. The date for submitting bids has been extended till Friday (today). More than five reputed companies have replied to the tenders for supplying equipment.”
— Inputs by Ranjeet Jadhav