MUMBAI (TIP): Eight years after the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which 164 people were killed and about 308 injured, the railways and coastal areas remain vulnerable. The strengthening of the intelligence and counter-intelligence apparatus and training of police personnel, especially  constables attached to the anti-terrorism cells, is yet to gather momentum. The cells were set up in over 100 police stations across Greater Mumbai. The nation observes the 8th anniversary of the attacks on Saturday.

A two-member committee headed by former Governor and Union Home Secretary R D Pradhan had been appointed to examine the government’s response to terror attacks. Among other things, the committee had suggested steps to strengthen coastal security through better monitoring and modernisation of police with automatic arms and ammunition.

While the government has undertaken to set up 12 coastal police stations, in a bid to strengthen the coastal security, as on date only two are operational –one in the island city the other in the western suburbs. However, both lack infrastructure. Besides, the establishment of police chowkies still remains on the paper while the development of a jetty has been caught in red tape. Of the 30-plus speed boats, some are either anchored at the bay and or can otherwise not be used by security personnel to conduct vigils, for want of adequate fuel.

Security at the Mumbai railway stations and key junctions have been caught in administrative and policy logjams. More than seven million commuters travel on central, western and harbour railway lines, but deployment of adequate security personnel has yet to happen.

State Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Atulchandra Kulkarni informs that the implementation of the Ram Pradhan committee report is being made in phases. “A lot of changes have been made in the functioning of the ATS and its jurisdiction. ATS units are functional in all key regions of the state. The police force is equipped with modern arms and weapons,” he says.

Further, a state home department official said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis recently launched Mumbai’s city-wide CCTV network, which is expected to strengthen the surveillance system stronger. A total of 4,717 CCTV cameras across 1,510 locations, covering almost 80 per cent of the city have been installed. Apart from fixed cameras, five  mobile surveillance vans will also start patrolling the city. The project had been proposed during the NCP-Congress regime, on a recommendation of the Ram Pradhan Committee report but it was delayed because private sector companies did not submit tenders despite bids being invited four times. Security expert Shirish Inamdar says the installation of CCTV cameras is not adequate and upgradation of intelligence machinery is need of the hour. “Higher level and lower level police personnel should interact with each other on a regular basis and those assigned with the job of intelligence gathering should be further trained. Though anti-terror cells have been established in every police station in Greater Mumbai, the personnel deployed there lack adequate training in intelligence and counter-terrorism. Adequate attention needs to be paid on this aspect,” he says. Source: Business Standard