'Money+Manpower' is the formula for safer stations

Investing in technology and deploying more security personnel are the key to plugging security loopholes.

Published - July 02, 2016 09:56 am IST - CHENNAI:

Last week, on the day S. Swathi was murdered, a constable of the Railway Protection Force had reported for duty at the Nungambakkam railway station around 4 a.m. He was on duty at the station till 5 a.m. and proceeded to Kodambakkam after receiving information on his wireless set about cable damage.

Sources in the Southern Railway said that on Friday, the constable had under his watch, Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam and Saidapet stations, and had to shuttle between the three of them. “Had he been on duty only at Nungambakkam, there is a chance the murder could have been prevented,” sources said.

Adequate manpower and an increase in investment in technology are key to enhancing the safety of rail passengers and preventing crime.

As many are 1,700 RPF personnel are stationed in the Chennai Division and they are distributed between establishments – stores, offices, police stations and open lines, in addition to being deployed at railway stations and for track patrolling.

Policemen conduct round-the-clock surveillance at 24 stations – major ones like Central and Egmore or even Tambaram and Tiruvallur on the suburban section — but in other stations, it is not possible, sources said and hence, a lone constable has to take care of more than one station in shifts stretching as long as 12 hours. The sources said that Government Railway Police too is short-staffed. Apart from vacancies in their wing, personnel from the Tamil Nadu Special Police who were on deputation to GRP have returned to their parent unit. The RPF too has its limitations. On Thursday evening, when an RPF team tried to pursue a group of miscreants near Chetpet railway station, the group threw stones at them, forcing them to retreat.

Even as plans are being formulated to speed up the installation of CCTV cameras, at least in important stations to begin with, the Southern Railway’s action plan now, sources told The Hindu , was to create control room for three or four stations. For instance, Mambalam would have a control room for Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam and Saidapet stations. CCTV visuals from these stations would be beamed to the control room. Similar control rooms would be created in St. Thomas Mount and Tambaram.

Officials also said that the absence of a continuous compound wall made it easy for all and sundry to enter platforms. Armed night patrolling between Vyasarpadi and Korrukkupettai had reduced risks on this stretch, officials added. However, lack of enough security in areas around stations like Chetpet, Saidapet, Tirusulam and those beyond Tambaram was a cause for worry, they added.

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