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Pune's bomb squad has only one old bomb suit at disposal

On the backdrop of four low-intensity serial bomb blasts in the city last week, sources in the Bomb Disposal and Detection Squad (BDDS) claim that they have all other equipment for just such a situation, but are lacking the most crucial requirement — state of art bomb suits.

The BDDS currently has only one bomb suit, which sources claim is heavy, bulky and difficult for the wearer to manoeuvre in, besides being damaged to an extent that it does not guarantee the survival of the wearer in the event of an explosion. A requisite was made in 2008 to the state government to provide at least six bomb suits, but the tendering and purchasing process is allegedly mired in red tape.


Deadly gamble: A sleuth sifting through bomb debris for evidence outside the Mc’Donald’s outlet on Jangli Maharaj road last week, wearing a bullet proof vest and helmet, which are not capable of providing much protection in the event of an explosion.  File Pic

Spare some funds
BDDS officials claim that while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the state government has sanctioned Rs 30 crore for purchase and installation of CCTV cameras in the city, the BDDS of the city police is yet to get bomb suits that could essentially decide the fate of personnel tasked with neutralising such threats.

While the world watched the events unfolding last week, personnel sifted through debris at the blast sites for evidence, wearing nothing more than bullet proof vests and helmets. “The one bomb suit with the BDDS is old and the Kevlar, foam and plastic, which protect the wearer from projectiles and shrapnel in case of an explosion, are damaged to a large extent,” said a police official on condition of anonymity.

He added that the suit would not guarantee the survival of a squad member in the event of an explosion while diffusing a device.  “As the state government has just sanctioned Rs 30 crore to purchase and set up CCTV cameras all over city to prevent and detect crimes, we also feel that some portion of the amount be set aside for the purchase of bomb suits,” said the official. Another BDDS official said that as the squad has only one bomb suit, it is practically impossible to respond to more than one bomb hoax calls at any given time. 

Red tape issues
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Sanjeev Kumar Singhal said that the city will receive Rs 30 crore to be solely used for the CCTV cameras project and the fund cannot be used for the purchase of bomb suits.

He added that the city police had sent a requisite to the home department in 2008, but the tendering and purchase process has been stalled by red tape. “We are conducting follow-ups and soon the city BDDS will get the required bomb suits,” Singhal said.

When contacted, Commissioner of Police, Gulabrao Pol, said that he was unaware of the issue and refused to comment further.
 

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