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Expert team to examine Delhi Metro security

Mounting concern over safety of network after London serial blasts

FOOLPROOF SECURITY?: In the absence of any X-ray scanners, Delhi Police are left with no option but to carry out all Delhi Metro security checks manually. Here is the scene at Connaught Place station on Saturday. PHOTO: V. V. KRISHNAN

NEW DELHI: Amid widespread concern over security of Delhi's Metro Rail network after the London blasts this past week, a six-member team of experts was set up here on Saturday to conduct a ``physical survey'' of the subway for assessing the protective measures, with a dominant opinion favouring deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

The team was set up by the Special Task Force of the Union Home Ministry which held its first meeting a day after its formation in the wake of the deadly serial blasts in London.

It will submit its report by this coming Tuesday to the Task Force, official sources said after the meeting that was attended by senior officials of the Union Home Ministry, CISF, Delhi Police, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Intelligence Bureau, Union Urban Development Ministry and the Delhi Government.

``The team will conduct a physical survey of the entire Metro network and assess the actual measures in existence and recommend further steps if needed,'' the sources said.

The team will examine access control, entry and exit passages of the network, and station-by-station situational analysis of the existing infrastructure, they said.

Meanwhile, with a dominant opinion favouring deployment of CISF, senior officers of the force on Saturday made a presentation to Metro officials about their security drill.

The Task Force has been asked to submit its report to the Home Ministry within seven days.

According to sources, intelligence agencies have warned that the Metro network could become a target of terrorist groups like Lashker-e-Taiba that had been carrying out sensational terrorist attacks. - PTI.

No X-ray scanners

Our Staff Reporter adds:

Though it has spent crores of rupees on installation of various high-tech systems to prevent and minimise loss of life and property in the event of a mishap or terrorist strike, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is yet to make any arrangements to place crucial X-ray scanners at entry points leading to its stations.

Already in operation for over two and a half years and with Phase II of the project also complete now with the commissioning of the new underground corridor from Kashmere Gate to Rithala, the DMRC has still not taken this all-important basic step. As such, checking of baggage and other items being taken into the Metro system by passengers day in and day out has been severely affected. Though the Delhi police, who have a special unit for Metro security, are looking after the job of providing security, senior officials concede that in the absence of X-ray scanners the network's security has been compromised.

"X-ray scanners are the basic equipment one needs to check carrying of arms and explosives into the system. This is also the reason why at all airports every baggage is compulsorily put through such scanners," points out a senior police officer, adding that on Delhi Metro the absence of scanners has put the onus of checking entirely on the police personnel. "We have a total of 280 personnel on Metro security duty and have taken three outside companies comprising around 200 men for the job. But expecting them to both secure the system and physically check all the luggage being carried in by over 2.5 lakh passengers daily is a bit too harsh."

Meanwhile, in response to a request from the Delhi police, the DMRC authorities have advised the public that the size of the baggage that can be carried while travelling on the Metro has to be limited to one bag of 60cm (length) x 45cm (breadth) x 25cm (height) with weight not exceeding 15 kg. The baggage would be checked by the security staff before entry of the passengers through the Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) gates.

While it has been some time since the Delhi police officially asked the DMRC to install X-ray scanners at all the entry points at its stations, the Corporation -- which otherwise has set new benchmarks in construction by completing the latest underground section a full eight months ahead of schedule -- has been found slow on this count.

The Director (Operations) of DMRC, Satish Kumar, confirmed on Saturday that the request had been received from Delhi police and said: "we are meeting all the requirements of the police force". Acknowledging that it was an important demand, Mr. Kumar said though he could not give a time frame for meeting of the request, "it would be looked into soon".

Barring this particular issue, the DMRC has been keeping pace with all the technology-related issues so far. Even in the case of the wireless systems being used by the Delhi police personnel, the Corporation had arranged for some high quality sets capable of working on the underground section and inside the tunnels. Also, it had placed coaxial leaky cables in the tunnels to meet the communication needs of the travelling public using mobile phones.

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