speaks to Home Minister Jayant Patil for a status check on the city’s defence plans after the November attacks.
Is Mumbai safer six months after the attacks? A major complaint against the government is that none of the plans have been implemented yet.
There were initial hiccups due to complications in the tendering process but we have not forgotten 26/11. Our orders for modern weapons and equipment like better jeeps will be delivered by next week. These will be distributed to cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Nashik.
In addition, important buildings like the State Secretariat and BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) are being manned by specialised security guards or police.
We’ve also worked out better communication channels/network within the police force to handle terror attacks more effectively.
What is being done to protect Mumbai from other such attacks?
For the city, we have planned two things that are to be implemented within a year. The first is to set up a smart cadre of motorcycle policemen across the city.
They will be able to reach any suspected crime spot in 5-6 minutes and improve overall crime surveillance. They will be equipped with faster bikes, better weapons and communication equipment, and even smarter uniforms.
The second move will be to install 5,000 CCTV cameras across Mumbai. The locations for these are still to be finalised, but they will be part of a sophisticated system that can alert operators about suspicious items like unattended baggage at railway stations and help generate revenue by better traffic monitoring.
Co-ordination between different agencies was poor during the attacks, slowing response time. Can we hope for improvement?
That’s true. But, since 26/11, we have put a systematic protocol into place. In the case of such an attack, we will activate a committee that has members from the Army and Navy, besides the state and the police, and is headed by the Chief Secretary or the Home Secretary. Also, communication networks within the police have been improved.
Will anyone be held responsible for the lapses during 26/11? The Ram Pradhan enquiry report has not been submitted yet or made public.
The report is still to be submitted. Once it is handed over to us, we will take its recommendations seriously. This is not an academic exercise; people who are guilty of lapses will be held responsible.
Are you in favour of the citizen identity cards proposed by the Centre to improve surveillance and detection of terror
Absolutely. Unique identity cards that have information on a person’s bank details, criminal offences and even traffic violations, will go a long way in detecting and preventing terrorist activities. It’s a complicated project for a city like Mumbai because of the large number of immigrants but it has to be done.