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Explosives' scanners for cars on Sea Link by December

Whizzing down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) at 60 kilometres per hour may soon be a thing of the past even though citizens will probably feel much safer while travelling down the bridge. The reason?

Bandra-Worli Sea Link
SAFE BUT SLOW: Occupants will have to get down while theirs cars are scanned for explosives at Bandra-Worli Sea Link from December. File Pic

The Maharastra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has decided to install state-of the-art scanners to check for explosives in cars. Two of these machines will be installed on either end of the sea link -- one near the toll plaza near Bandra and the other near the Worli sea face exit of the bridge.

But ensuring safety of citizens will come at a price. Occupants of every car will have to get down while the scanning is in progress, since full body scans cannot be performed on people. MSRDC officials fear that this may lead to traffic jams as scanning each car will take time.

Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, an MSRDC official said, “Taking the security aspect into consideration, the installation of explosives’ scanners is a must but I fear it will lead to heavy congestion at the toll plaza as motorists will have to get down while each car is scanned.”

In December 2012, the MSRDC had announced plans to install two of these scanners worth ` 24.52 crore each on the sea link. The MSRDC has already placed the order for two scanners and they are expected in the next couple of months.

Confirming the same, an MSRDC official said, “We are awaiting the delivery of two scanners from a public sector company. The scanners will be functional by December.”

When asked whether citizens’ safety would be compromised if dozens of cars queue up as a bomb scan is carried out on cars, a senior MSRDC official said, “Every vehicle will not undergo the scanning procedure. We will randomly select and scan vehicles but it is true that it will take two-three minutes to scan each car.”

Earlier in May 2011, explosives’ scanners manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) were installed at the BWSL on a trial basis, two years after the then police commissioner of Mumbai D Sivanandan wrote to MSRDC to install high-quality security gadgets on the sea link.

The 5.6-km Bandra Worli Sea Link was constructed at a cost of ` 1,648 crore and was thrown open for vehicular traffic in 2009. At present there are CCTV cameras at various places above and below the sea link to keep check on vehicles on the bridge.  

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