Wanted urgently: more bomb-detection personnel for NCR

July 28th, 2008 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mayank Aggarwal and Sahil Makkar
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Though Delhi and it suburban towns that comprise the National Capital Region (NCR) remain vulnerable to bomb attacks like the ones that struck Bangalore and Ahmedabaad, security officials admit they may be professionally ill-equipped to tackle emergent situations due to a shortage of trained bomb detection and disposal personnel. Delhi Police have four bomb disposal squads (BDS) and nine bomb detection teams (BDT) functional in the city. But Gurgaon and Noida, both considered boomtowns in economic terms, don’t have any such specialised units, though they are as much targets of terrorist attacks as any other city.

“The present equipment and gadgets are outdated. Seeing the present scenario and bombs exploding very often in parts of the country, we must update ourselves with latest devices on par with the (elite) National Security Guard (NSG),” a Delhi Police official said.

“We don’t think we are capable of handling any post-blast situation. It would be difficult for us to gather forensic evidences as we are supposed to do,” the official admitted to IANS.

Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the force is raising one more bomb detection team and would be upgrading all its four BDS by the end of the current financial year.

“We are in a process of finalising technical specifications. After that the tender will be floated. We have enough funds to procure the required gadgets,” he said, adding that all the new purchased devices would be state-of-art and the latest available in the market.

He said tenders are likely to be floated next month.

But a top official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the situation at present is not as good as projected.

“We need at least 25 percent more staff in the BDS. The officials deployed in such units would only be able to perform when they are given proper training at regular intervals. In the past one decade they have hardly diffused four or five bombs.

“Regular drills are also required to train personnel as most of them had never defused a bomb. It is making the situation grimmer. It is like having a unit that cannot be utilised fully. We need to act promptly due to increase in terror strike in the country,” the official said.

Senior officials admitted that lack of motivation and incentives to these personnel are keeping others from joining the specialised squads. “The personnel are risking their lives without even an insurance cover.”

Though Delhi Police has geared up to modernise its BDS, police forces in neighbouring Gurgaon and Noida don’t even have such units.

Considered to be India’s IT hub, Bangalore was rocked by eight blasts July 25 killing one and injuring seven people. Like Bangalore, Gurgaon has witnessed huge development in recent years with advent of numerous IT companies and BPOs. However, security remains a major concern, as the police are ill equipped to handle any major terror attacks.

According to Gurgaon Police Commissioner Mohinder Lal, the local police are dependent on the NSG.

“We don’t have our BDS but we are in the process of getting one. To tackle any bomb threat call, we take help of BDS of NSG in Manesar,” Lal told IANS, but refused to give a time frame for acquiring necessary equipment. Manesar is about an hour’s drive from Gurgaon.

“The other BDS is in Madhuban, which is nearly 120 km from Gurgaon,” Lal said.

The situation is similar in Noida, the other satellite town of the national capital that has witnessed mammoth growth in terms of adding industrial units and residents.

“We don’t have a BDS. Whenever there is need, we take help from the Ghaziabad police. We are not sure whether we would ever have a BDS of our own,” said a senior Noida police official.

Ghaziabad is better prepared to tackle such terror strikes.

“To tackle terror threats, we use the BDS of 41st battalion of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC),” said Ghaziabad’s Senior Superintendent of Police Deepak Ratan.

“We have three anti sabotage teams, one is of Ghaziabad police and one each with 41st and 47th battalion of PAC. We also have specialised trained teams for tackling bomb related threat calls,” he added.

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