Already racing against time to complete construction at the Commonwealth Games village, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has now invited the wrath of India’s top security agency for failing to follow strict security guidelines at its various construction sites.
Up to 7,000 athletes and delegates are to be accommodated at the village and different venues during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The need for heightened security has been necessitated following inputs the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has received that terror groups might try to sabotage the games village and different venues by planting explosive materials during the construction stage itself, which can be triggered later by remote control devices.
Following the inputs, the IB has circulated an elaborate list of security guidelines to agencies like the DDA and the CPWD, which are associated with developing infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games. IB wants them to follow the guidelines at the different venues where construction work is under progress.
Apart from advising manual checking of construction materials at the sites, the IB has directed civic agencies to procure sensitive electronic gadgets to not only digitally scan the venue but also all vehicles entering them and the construction material that are entering the site for arms, explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Not only this, DDA and other civic agencies have also been directed to engage sniffer dogs for regular sanitisation of the venues against explosives. These elaborate guidelines have now become a bone of contention between the civic agencies and the IB. In recent meetings with the security agency, DDA has informed them it neither has the expertise nor the inventory to buy such expensive equipment.
“A digital scanner costs around Rs 3 to 4 crore. The construction agency and contractors who are executing the different projects have told us that they do not have the money to buy these security gadgets or the expertise to use them,” said a DDA official on condition of anonymity.
The official added, “And also from where on earth are the contractors going to get sniffer dogs? We are a civic, not a security agency. It’s the duty of the police to deploy sniffer dogs and conduct such thorough scanning to ensure foolproof security.”
Officials said initially IB had asked the Delhi Police to help in the security drill but the latter wrote back to IB saying they do not have the manpower or the resources.
But with the IB adamant on the security drill, DDA is now planning to write to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for their intervention. “The MHA should depute agencies like CISF for the job. We are willing to foot the bill,” said an official.
DDA officials, however, say that except for the brief to use digital scanners and sniffer dogs, they have followed all the remaining IB guidelines. These include securing the construction venues through measures like effective perimeter wall/fencing, adequate security covers to all the entry/exit points to the venues and patrolling along perimeters to ensure foreign materials are not unauthorisedly shipped into the venue.
This apart, the IB has also directed civic agencies, including CPWD and NDMC, to carry out a thorough check of people working at the construction sites. To ensure this we have given photo identity cards to all the workers/staff at the games village so that no unauthorised person cannot get access to the site. Beside whoever is entering the construction site is thoroughly frisked while entering/exiting,” said an official.