In a setback to operational preparedness of NSG commandos based in Mumbai, the counter-terror unit has been forced to abandon its newly built concrete premises as cracks were found in the structure, rendering it unsafe for use.
A squad of 241 ‘black cat’ troopers and support staff, deployed at the newly created hub in the western metropolis to enable the commandos to take swift counter-terror and counter- hijack missions, has been left with no choice but to occupy “semi-permanent and pre-fabricated” accommodation in the same complex, officials said.
The Mumbai National Security Guard (NSG) hub is located in Marol in suburban Andheri on a 23-acre land given by the Maharashtra government for stationing the crack commandos.
“The commandos are back to the square one as the building has been declared unsafe for living following the appearance of big cracks. They are now living in semi-permanent structures even as they have to stay continuously alert to undertake any operation anytime,” they said.
The building, which has developed cracks, was meant for housing, training and other operational requirements of NSG commandos. The facility was inaugurated in February this year by then Home Minister P Chidambaram, three years after the hub was conceived in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.
The NSG headquarters in New Delhi, according to the officials, has now rushed to Mumbai a team of engineers drawn from IIT- Roorkee, architectural experts and force officials to study the ‘big cracks’ that developed soon after its inauguration earlier this year.
The structure has been built by the state-owned National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) at a cost of Rs 56 crore.
The Mumbai hub has been created to cater to any terrorist or hijack emergency in the western part of the country. It will have helicopter landing facilities for quick ’air-insertion’ of commandos.
The NSG hub, which has commandos ready to undertake operations 24x7, was operating from another location in Kalina in the city for some time as permanent infrastructure was being set up at the present location at Marol.
Despite the set back due to the structural problem, the force has asked its squad commanders to keep the commandos in ’full-alert’ mode even as it looks for way out.
“The Mumbai hub is facing other problems like approach roads and water supply but the cracks in the building have created additional problems for the force,” the officials said.
The government has created four NSG hubs across the country at Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad apart from Mumbai after the commando force received flak for taking time in responding to the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes.