Bandra-Worli Sea Link under threat from explosives

Apr 03, 2014, 09:29 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

MSRDC has cancelled the contract to install scanners on both ends of the bridge that can detect explosives, thanks to the delay on the part of the company responsible for providing the equipment

THE Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) will continue to have inadequate security, thanks to the delay on the part of the company responsible for providing explosives detectors in delivering them.

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link currently has six CCTV cameras watching over it. FILE PIC

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had awarded a contract worth R24 crore to Bharat Electronics Limited, a government body, to provide equipment to detect explosives. The deal was signed in September 2012, and the company was supposed to provide the devices within six months. But more than a year later, the equipment is yet to arrive and the MSRDC has cancelled the contract. The body has also forfeited the R1.25 crore in bank guarantee that the company had provided.

Confirming the same, MSRDC’s chief engineer Arun Deodhar said, “We cancelled the contract more than a month back. They were originally supposed to install the scanners within six months. We gave them two extensions — a total of 18 months since the deal — and they haven’t delivered the material. MSRDC will also
forfeit the bank guarantee amount submitted.”

Vulnerable to terror
The BWSL has been a sensitive spot and a possible target of terror attacks, according to the police. After the 2008 terror attacks, the then Mumbai police commissioner D Sivanandan had written to MSRDC to install high-end security equipment on BWSL, as it was on the hit list of terrorists, who could possible use an explosives-laden car.

MSRDC, in close coordination with Mumbai Police and other security agencies, had prepared a list of security measures for the sea link. This included installation of explosives scanner and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Keeping an eye
As per the original plan, the explosives detectors were to be installed on both ends of the link — one at the toll plaza near Bandra and the other near the Worli exit. Currently, there are six CCTV cameras above and below the link.

Now, fresh tenders will undergo the whole process once again. Sources from MSRDC said, “It will take more than six months to approve tenders and more than a year for installation of the scanners.” This means the link is under threat, thanks to the inordinate delay by BEL.

No official or spokesperson from BEL could be reached for comment on the matter.

Explosives scanner 

In May 2011, an explosives scanner manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) was installed on BWSL on a trial basis.

The device had the capacity to check and scan the entire vehicle as well as the people sitting inside it.

But since Indian laws don’t permit human body scans on health grounds, motorists had to alight from the vehicle in order for the scan to be completed.

This process was found to be time-consuming. In a board meeting of MSRDC last year, it was decided that two explosives scanners would be installed at either end of the sea link.


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