Rs 50-cr plan to secure sea link still in limbo

In 2009, then CP D Sivanandan had asked MSRDC to implement high-tech security methods to secure the 47-km-long bridge; much of it hasn't been implemented yet

While the entire city will be observing the third anniversary of the gruesome 26/11 attacks tomorrow, remembering the martyrs and innocent souls who lost their lives in the attack, the security of the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) remains in limbo. At present, only six CCTV cameras have been installed on the 4.7 km bridge. The traffic police, to penalise offenders who either halt their vehicles or get off on the sea link, which is against the law, is monitoring these cameras.

Representation pic

Suggested measures
Speaking to MiD DAY, a state government official, requesting anonymity, said, "In June 2009, the then Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan, had written a couple of letters to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) asking them to make provision of approximately Rs 50 crore to secure the sea link, especially the cable stayed portion against a possible terror strike."

In these letters, Sivanandan had also mentioned the list of security equipment that would be required for safeguarding the Rs 1,634-crore bridge. While the first letter asked to install high-tech security systems worth Rs 3.7 crore, the second one stressed on the need of having additional security sets worth Rs 45 crore.

Taking a serious note of the possible terror strikes, earlier this year, MSRDC installed explosives scanner at the sea link on a trial basis. However, they had to be removed, as the process was time consuming and led to ugly traffic jams.

According to MSRDC chairperson and Public Works Minister, Jaydutta Khirsagar, "When we invited tenders to install explosives scanner on the BWSL, we had clearly mentioned that we would be considering only those companies who manufacture these devices. Hence, we received just a single bid. A month's trial was carried out at the sea link and a proposal has already been sent to the State Home Department for final approval. We are very concerned about the security of the bridge and will install the scanners in three months' time."

The test
In May, an explosives scanner manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) was installed at BWSL on a trial basis. The machine had the capacity to check and scan an entire vehicle along with the passengers. However, as Indian laws don't permit human body scanning on health grounds,  motorists had to get off the vehicle before it was scanned. "Though the scanner served its purpose, the entire process turned out to be time consuming," said an official, requesting anonymity.

Scanner Fact file
The Rs 20 crore scanner was first used in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games. It was later brought to Mumbai after BHEL offered to provide the machine to secure the sea link.

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