1,000 posts lie vacant in BMC security dept
Despite giving assurance that more elaborate security measures would be put in place after the 26/11 terror attacks, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has little beyond having closed circuit camera (CCTV) units installed at its city headquarters.
After 26/11, the BMC had promised that its security personnel would be trained in bomb detection and disposal, and that they would undergo basic police training under the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF). Also, the corporation was to set up a new firing range at Bhandup complex. The current number of vacant posts in the civic body’s security department has increased from 800 in 2008 to 1,000 this year.
The civic body had also planned to install biometric thumb readers and cameras to click close-up photographs of visitors to its headquarters, and also to recruit ex-serviceman familiar in the use of weapons.
A decision was also made to ban corporator’s vehicles from being parked on the premises of the civic body head office as a security measure. However, the ban did not last long and vehicles were being parked on the premise a few months later.
A senior civic body official said that the corporators do not listen to the security personnel and pull rank and forcibly park their vehicles in the no parking zone. According to a source, the plan to impart bomb detection and disposal training to personnel posted at the headquarters was dropped.
“Bomb detection and disposal is not a job for the BMC personnel, but a task for the police force. That is why BMC has dropped the idea,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.
In 2009, a batch of 25 security guards and six assistant security officers were sent to Pune for a 13-day training programme in defusing bombs, but the practice was stopped later.
In 2008 — the year the terror attack happened — the security department of the civic body was short of about 800 security guards. No recruitment was initiated despite the shortage, and currently, the number of vacant posts has increased to 1,000.
Of the 3,800 members in the security department, only 25 guards are armed while the remaining personnel are not familiar in the use of weapons.
The guards with licenced weapons are put on duty to escort the civic body’s cash vans. All 24 wards have a citizen facilitation centre wherein the BMC collects cash paid towards water bills, property tax, licence renewal and other fees, and every day the amount is transferred to the bank.
When questioned, officials at the security department claimed that all security measures would be in place in a few months, except for the bomb detection and disposal training plan.
“The recruitment process is going on and we will fill the 1,000 posts in a month or two.
Also, biometric thumb impression with picture is also under process and will be installed at the head office shortly,” said Arun Veer, chief security officer at BMC. He added that as per plan, CCTV cameras have been installed to cover almost 70 per cent of the area and the remaining 30 per cent will be covered soon.
“The security department is capable of ensuring that the BMC properties are secure and my officers take night rounds of water reservoirs, pumping stations ward offices, hospitals and other establishments,” Veer said.
I C Shisodiya, BMC chief vigilance officer (Retd) said, “The BMC is not prepared at all for 26/11. There are several loopholes in its security. The BMC water lines, reservoirs and pumping stations are not safe. I have visited many places and wrote to the BMC about security lapses.