Security revamp for Sea Link still on paper
Today is the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, but few are aware that even four years since terrorists attacked the city, the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) is yet to get a foolproof security cover. Apart from only six CCTV cameras being installed at strategic points on the 4.7 km-stretch, scanners to detect explosives are yet to see the light of day despite the commissioner of police putting the proposal forward in 2009.
A Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) official said on condition of anonymity, “In June 2009, then Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan had written two letters to MSRDC to make provision of Rs 50 crore to secure the Sea Link, especially the cable stayed portion, from possible terrorist strikes.
However, apart from the proposal to increase the number of CCTV cameras on the BWSL, the final decision about when the explosives scanners would be installed has not been made.”
The proposal for additional CCTV cameras on the BWSL was passed during an MSRDC board meeting in August. “The issue of installation of security gadgets, including explosives scanners, has been discussed and a decision regarding the same will be taken shortly. The proposal to install more CCTV cameras on the sea link was passed during the board meeting in August, since we think that it is necessary to cover the entire stretch,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
In the two letters sent to MSRDC, the then police commissioner also mentioned a list of security devices that would be required for safeguarding the Rs 1,634-crore bridge. The first letter mentioned installation of high tech systems worth Rs 3.7 crore, whereas the second letter listed security equipment worth Rs 45 crore. Taking serious note of a possible terror attack, MSRDC even installed an explosives scanner on the BWSL in May 2011 on a trial basis.
The explosive detection device manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) was installed on BWSL on a trial basis. This particular device was capable of checking and scanning an entire vehicle along with the vehicle’s occupants. As Indian laws do not permit the human body to be subjected to certain rays on health grounds, motorists were required to evacuate the vehicle before the vehicle was scanned.
“We found the scanner to be really efficient, but the only problem was that the process was quite time-consuming as vehicles had to be evacuated before being scanned,” said an official requesting anonymity. The Rs 20-crore machine was first used in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games in 2010. It was brought to Mumbai after BHEL offered to provide the machine to cover the BWSL. The machine however was removed after a month.
Did you know?
Currently, only six CCTV cameras are installed to keep a vigil on motorists and monitor activities on the 4.7 kilometre stretch of the BWSL. The traffic police use the cameras to monitor vehicular movement and to spot and penalise anyone stopping on the stretch and getting out of their vehicles.