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Why Navi Mumbai

Touted as the city of the 21st century, Navi Mumbai has come under a cloud for being the new hub of terror, reports G Mohiuddin Jeddy.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2008 23:59 IST
G. Mohiuddin Jeddy

Touted as the city of the 21st century, Navi Mumbai has come under a cloud for being the new hub of terror. The events of the past few days have exposed the city’s fragile law and order infrastructure. Add to that the unique topography of the region and one can understand why the city almost sends out an invitation to terror cells.

Spread over 553.08 sq km, the Navi Mumbai police commissionerate extends from Navi Mumbai to Panvel and Uran, including the port area of JNPT. There are umpteen exit routes from the city: to Mumbai from the Vashi creek bridge; to Mumbai or Mulund from the Airoli creek bridge; to Thane and beyond towards Gujarat from the Thane-Belapur road or towards Pune or Goa from the Mumbai-Pune expressway or the old Mumbai-Pune road.

The city is well connected to Mumbai, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan and other regions with the railway and bus services. With thousands of commuters using the services, it is easy for criminals to become untraceable in the melee.

The Navi Mumbai Police, battling a resource crunch of men and material, falls woefully short in such circumstances.

Says a senior police official: “The commissionerate, which has a population of almost 30 lakh, has about 2,700 police personnel. More are expected to join but they are currently under training.”

Compare this with Mumbai, with a population of 1.25 crore and 40,000 police personnel. Proportionately, Navi Mumbai needs at least 6,000 more personnel — something that is likely to remain a distant dream for years to come.

The infrastructure too is nothing to crow about. Until a couple of years back, the situation was desperate.

“Navi Mumbai is a most neglected commissionerate. Proposals from here to the DG’s office are not paid much attention to. We get step-motherly treatment,” says another senior policeman.

Police officials say things have improved slightly with the induction of new vehicles including Sumos, Qualises and motorcycles.

Commissioner Ramrao Wagh sums it up: “We are short on resources and there are practical problems as criminals have several escape routes. However, ultimately it is the commitment of the policeman that gets results. The need of the hour is for the entire force to be as dedicated and quick in response, else even with all the infrastructure in the world, we will not be able to show results.”