Security for Delhi Metro
Maxwell Pereira

Following the Mumbai train blasts, a couple of television channels executed their own coup to check the efficacy of security provided on the Kolkota and the Delhi Metros. And came up with graphic pictures on the idiot box to tell the nation how easily the Metro security could be breached, how easily they could carry past the police and other security staff present some simulated bombs into the train coaches and elsewhere within the protected zone, without being detected or stopped. There were tell-tale pictures also of indifferent cops slouching or loitering, totally impervious to or concerned with the happenings around – displaying no sense of alertness they needed to.

I was one of the faces invited along with other panellists by the TV channel (which conducted the sting) to comment on the state of security alertness in the light of the expose. Before venturing I made my own enquiries to be equipped for the hysterical onslaught TV channels excel in today even on neutral panellists. Especially when the channel has a pre-determined agenda, it is difficult to get in a right word or crucial data within the fleeting moments the programme traps you into despite inviting you for it.

For a clearer perspective: With Phase-I of the Delhi Metro almost complete, we have 56 metro stations operational and available to the general public commuters. The stations are on three metro lines – i) the Shahdara-Rithala – with 18 metro stations in an elevated corridor; ii) the Vishwavidhyalaya-Central Secretariat – with 10 metro stations in an underground corridor; and iii) the Barakhmaba-Dwaraka – with 28 metro stations of which just two are underground (Barakhamba and Rajeev Chowk). When three more on this Line yet to be made operational are ready, this Line will have 31 stations.

While the overall responsibility for security of Metro operations continues to be with the Delhi Police (DP), the decision taken by the powers that be is to eventually hand over Metro Security to the CISF. In the interim though, there is a tentative deployment of 200 DP personnel and 6 Companies of CISF. In an informal arrangement and for convenience of supervisory responsibility, DP staff are deployed on Line-I (Shahdara-Rithala), while responsibility for the other two Lines is shared by CISF by deploying 3 Coys. on each.

The operational time being between 6am to 11pm, security deployment has been organized in two shifts consisting of 8 ½ hours each. In the absence of any sanctioned strength for the purpose, the DP component of deployment is currently managed on an adhoc basis by drawing men from various units of DP – obviously to the detriment and dilution of the overall efficiency of the units the force is drawn from.

Considering the threat level perception and the constant alerts being received regarding imminent attacks on Delhi Metro by terrorists, the current deployment is grossly inadequate There is need to upgrade the security immediately with a committed force deployed under a single command and authority.

Security on the Metro is a concern yet again following the Mumbai serial blasts on its suburban train line on 20/7. In fact this need was felt even earlier following last year’s 7/7 London blasts, when a Committee with officers from the MHA, IB, CISF, DP and DMRC surveyed the Metro system and suggested a compact and comprehensive security plan. Per these suggestions, the CISF submitted a the proposal, projecting in it also a requirement of 3200 personnel as part of the security plan for Metro’s Ph-I alone.

Those responsible for Metro security disclose that the Metro management has not been forthcoming fully with the desired level of infrastructural and technological support projected and promised. While the CCTV cover is partially in position with only 450 cameras installed so far and more on the way, baggage-scanners and explosive-detectors are yet to come, as also the bomb-blankets required at each station and on each train. Only three sniffer dogs in position so far against a minimum 18 required. Communication set up statedly satisfactory and adequate emergency fire exits; though for lack of manpower, access from outside into these fire exits has now been blocked. 100% security is utopian to think of under these conditions, even without making allowances for alertness slip-ups due to human failure!

Against this background, the one thing I managed to put across at this particular TV interaction was the blatantly callous attitude of the union government in sanctioning in time the required staff for the known and established needs/ manpower resources. Also regarding the procrastination on handing over clear-cut responsibility from DP or the CISF, for securing the Delhi Metro. It was heartening to read in the papers three days later that the Cabinet Committee cleared the sanction for 1600 CISF personnel for Metro security. I am sure the sanction had nothing to do with the TV expose or my projection of the state of affairs – but did the government need the Mumbai blasts to jump start it into action! What is worse, even after a month of this sanction coming through there are no signs yet of positioning them, or taking over full control of metro security by the CISF.

Considering the fact that expenditure on the Metro is Rs.100 crores per km of elevated corridor and Rs.300 crores per km for the underground, one wonders why the hesitation and procrastination in incurring just Rs.50 crore one time security infrastructure expenditure projected – a pittance when compared to the total expenditure being incurred on the Metro. Is it because securing human life in India is not a priority, or are we waiting for the bomb blasts to occur before rushing in to sanction manpower and put in place the infrastructure.

22.08.2006: Copyright © Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// and TOP

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