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Mumba: MSRDC, MEPID say adequate security measures taken at Bandra-Worli sea link

Adequate measures have been taken to prevent suicides or possible terror attacks at Bandra-Worli Rajiv Gandhi sea link here, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Mumbai Entry Point Infrastructure
Developers (MEPID) informed the Bombay High Court today.

Both the organisations were responding to a PIL filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar which demanded security measures and surveillance at the sea link due to a rash of suicides.

The PIL alleged that MEPID and MSRDC are not looking after the maintenance and security at the 4.8-km long bridge, which is vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

An affidavit filed by MEPID, which collects the toll, said that it would be installing 80 CCTV cameras at this cable-stayed bridge within a period of two months and the work order for this purpose has already been issued.

Currently, only 10 cameras are installed at the bridge, said the affidavit filed by Shaswat Singh Gadre, authorised signatory of MEPID.

MEPID has deputed 30 security guards, who work in three shifts every day at the sea link. Additionally, 6 riders in three shifts (two riders per shift) are continuously monitoring the traffic movement on the bridge by patrolling round the clock, the affidavit further said.

However, MEPID said it was beyond its purview and powers to increase the height of the railing on the sea link, as
pleaded in the PIL.

Since the major portion of the bridge is in the middle of the sea it is impossible to provide any net or barbed wire
fence which may eventually lead into eventuality of serious tragedy due to rain or wind as the barbed fencing can get
uprooted and may come on the main carriage way, it said.

Even X-ray machines are also beyond its purview and powers, MPEID said and denied that it had failed to perform
its duties as alleged in the PIL.

MPEID said it was spending around Rs 10 crore on the installation of cameras, expenses for employing security guards, maintenance of infrastructure (motorcycles and cameras) and annual maintenance charges.

According to the petitioner, so far five cases of suicide by jumping from the bridge have been reported in the recent
times. However, there are only six CCTV cameras whereas the whole length requires 80 CCTV cameras, the PIL said.

The PIL also wanted deployment of more, better-trained guards. Currently, only six to eight guards are posted on the
bridge. The barriers and railing are around 4 ft high which is not sufficient to prevent jumping off the bridge, it added.

The toll collected on the Sea Link was Rs 77.85 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 53.43 crore up to January 2014. A small portion of it is required for enhancing the security, the PIL said.

The PIL suggested that X-ray machines be installed at both the entry points to detect explosives.

MSRDC said in an affidavit that in 2009 the then police chief had suggested installing scanners at either end of the
sea link to detect vehicles carrying explosives. An expert committee was also set up and consultants were hired.

The experts had opined that drive through scanning was not permitted in India since it involved passengers to sit in
the vehicles during the scanning which exposed them to radiation emitted during the process. This was also confirmed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board via e-mail in July 2011.

In view of this, it was decided to procure re-locatable explosive vehicle scanner in which random scanning of a suspected vehicle can be carried out, which required all the passengers to disembark from the vehicle, MSRDC said.

Tenders were invited for scanners and MSRDC accepted the offer of Bharat Electronics to provide the same. The supply order was also issued in November 2012. However, since Bharat Electronics could not provide scanners in the extended time limit, the purchase order was cancelled on February 25, 2014 and their bank guarantee forfeited, MSRDC said.

Later, an opinion was considered that during the random checking of suspicious vehicles this type of arrangement may not be foolproof and may add to traffic snarls, hence, MSRDC said it had not taken any further action in that respect.

MSRDC said it would not be possible for it to do under water surveillance and such exercise can only be done agencies
looking after the security of the sea coast and defence installations. MSRDC said it is concerned with road and infrastructure and not equipped to handle policing matters.

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