No view-cutters, no Monorail: Maharashtra Prisons dept to MMRDA

While the MMRDA said it will not be installing blinds to block the view of Arthur Road jail from the Monorail, the state Prison department has insisted on it, citing security concerns

A day after mid-day reported that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was backtracking on its commitment to install view-cutters on a 90-metre stretch of the new Monorail line that passes right by Arthur Road jail, the state Prisons department insisted that the development authority would have to install this security measure before the launch of Jacob Circle-Wadala Monorail.

In the past, the MMRDA has agreed to install view-cutters on some of its projects, such as this stretch of the Eastern Freeway passing by oil depots in the Wadala-Sewri complex
In the past, the MMRDA has agreed to install view-cutters on some of its projects, such as this stretch of the Eastern Freeway passing by oil depots in the Wadala-Sewri complex

Yesterday, this paper had reported that in 2010, the MMRDA had agreed to place view-cutters on the 90-metre stretch outside the jail to block any glimpse within, after the Home department, which is in charge of prisons, expressed concerns that the close proximity of the Monorail would expose inmates to surveillance or attacks.

However, metropolitan commissioner UPS Madan informed mid-day that it would not be possible to install the view-cutters as this would require structural changes to the project (‘No view-cutters for Arthur Road jail security: MMRDA’, November 16).

Now, the launch of the Monorail could be delayed with this debate between the two departments under the chief minister — the Urban Development department’s MMRDA and the Home department’s Prison authority.

Additional Director General (Prisons) B K Upadhyay told mid-day, “I had a discussion with metropolitan commissioner UPS Madan over the phone around two weeks ago, and I explained that the installation of view-cutters outside Arthur Road jail is a must. We will be writing to them to explain why it is important. We expect cooperation and positive response from their side, as it is related to the security of the prison.”

Design changes
The MMRDA had pointed out that this would involve several design changes and new construction. Currently, the concrete structure, on which the trains will run, is a single guide-way beam with no space on the sides where the protective screens can be placed. For this, the MMRDA will have to build girders and sidewalls on which they can be mounted.

“At this point, if they insist on the view-cutters, we will have to make a lot of changes. This is not only time consuming, but will also result in a delay in the opening of the line,” said a senior MMRDA official who did not wish to be named. But the Prisons department refused to budge on this demand. “It is fine if they install view-cutters after the project is completed, but we will insist on it,” said Upadhyay.

Other instances
There have been three instances in the past when the MMRDA has agreed to install view-cutters and noise barriers on its projects in the past:

>> Noise barriers and blinds were installed at the cost of R75 lakh, on a 300-metre stretch of the Anik-Panjarpol Link Road near Chembur, after locals living in adjacent buildings complained about the noise and lack of privacy

>> Rs 2.68 crore was spent to place view-cutters on a 3-km stretch of the Eastern Freeway passing by oil depots in the Wadala-Sewri complex after concerns were raised that they could be targeted in an attack by terrorists

>> Soon after the opening of the Milan Road Over Bridge, view-cutters were installed at the expense of Rs 15 lakh, on a 200-metre stretch from where the airport runway and premises were visible

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