The iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) appeared exceedingly vulnerable on November 26, 2008. Since then countless promises have been tendered and some efforts made to enhance security at the heritage site. Most recently, Central Railway (CR) set up expensive cutting-edge equipment at the station, including 35 multi-zone door frame metal detectors (DFMDs). But absence of personnel to man the equipment has rendered them ineffectual.
The erstwhile DFMDs had to be replaced as they were well past their prime. Meanwhile, the new devices were lying around at various railway stations for the last six months. “We have installed the new DFMDs because they were gathering dust. We have removed the old ones and set up the multi-zone ones now,” said a senior official from RPF.
Central Railway’s six major stations CST, Dadar, Kurla, LTT, Thane and Kalyan have a budget of 37 crore under Integrated Security System. The equipment being installed includes multi-zone DFMDs, advanced baggage scanners, high-visibility CCTV cameras etc. Also, 100 handheld metal detectors have been provided at CST.
The older DFMDs were priced at Rs 70,000, while a multi-zone one comes for Rs 2.35 lakh. In all, equipment worth about Rs 1 crore have been positioned at CST, but the security remains questionable. When MiD DAY asked why no RPF personnel were present alongside the DFMDs, Anil Sharma, chief security commissioner, RPF (CR), said, “The system is being streamlined and it will take time.”
The multi-zone DFMDs help locate metal objects and where they have been hidden on a person through an image on an LCD screen, which is part of the security kit. This technology will scan the human body in four parts legs, abs, chest and head. When a person walks through it, the DMFD will not only beep if it identifies a metal object, but also show its location. The microprocessor-based system will identify both ferrous and nonferrous metals concealed on an individual.
Senior CR officials said they are in the process of acquiring 50 multi-zone DFMDs and 326 handheld detectors for other stations apart from the ones promised earlier. Also, four new baggage scanners have been installed at CST, as the old ones will be sent to Panvel.
However, passengers remain upset with the negligent attitude of the authorities. Santosh Raman, who regularly commutes between CST and Vithalwadi, said, “CST is the busiest railway station here, and caters to over 10 lakh passengers every day. But it has been ignored to such an extent that commuters are now asking whether railway authorities are waiting for another major terror attack to wake up to the need for security.”