Eight years ago, when Mumbai fell prey to one of the worst terror attacks in the world, it became clear — under the glare of the world’s television lights — how ill-prepared the city was.
The two-member Pradhan committee, appointed after the attacks, pointed out fundamental flaws in the system: negligent coastal security, poor quality of arms, loopholes in how the state and Centre shared intelligence, and the absolute lack of following the standard operating procedures.
Eight years on, the state government claims to have learned its lesson. It is prepared, sources say, to combat any terror attack. Today, fortnightly reviews are done of intelligence collected and shared and on procurement of arms and ammunition. The government has substantially increased its outlay for the police force and have complied with nearly all of the panel’s recommendations.
One of the major recommendations by the Pradhan committee was installing a vast network of CCTV cameras across the city. The government has almost completed setting up around 4,500 CCTV cameras that are supported by state-of-the art control and command rooms. In a recent decision, the home department has decided to spread extend the network to 26 other cities governed by municipal corporations in the next year. Across the city, 103 leading establishments, including star hotels, railway stations and malls have agreed to share CCTV feeds when required. And, all vital installations have always been put on a priority security list, home department officials said.
“We have a system in place for intelligence to be shared between the state and Central agencies on a daily basis. The chief minister reviews this, along with other compliance checks every fortnight,” said KP Bakshi, the additional chief secretary, home.
“SOPs have been streamlined and are revised periodically on instructions from the Centre or in the wake of the upgradation in technology,” Bakshi told HT
The Pradhan committee had also highlighted the lapses in securing our coasts, which gave the terrorists a free pass into the city. The state government claims that today, all 44 coastal police stations in six districts are functional, 69 surveillance boats have been deployed and fisher folk who venture deep into the sea have been roped in as informers — under Gram Suraksha Dals, they share information about suspicious activities along the coast. The community has been registered with the authorities through a biometric system and color-coding of the boats for monitoring.
Bakshi said police personnel and officials are trained periodically. Starting this August, the government planned the training of 2,500 personnel every year, providing them with sufficient stock of bullets for firing.
“Besides putting Force One, an elite force on the lines of National Security Guards, fully in command, we have also deployed Quick Response Teams in major cities across the state. We have procured six anti-mine vehicles and spent Rs50 crore to upgrade the police force’s communication systems,” Bakshi said.
Home department officials also claimed the annual allocation of the department has increased to Rs595 crore this fiscal, from Rs196 crore in 2014-15 and much, much lower in 2008.