Gujarat has beaten Maharashtra in becoming the first state to set up its own bulletproof jacket and helmet testing facility. Until now, the Central forensic science laboratory (CFSL) at Chandigarh was the only such facility catering to the entire country, which was leading to delays in acquiring bulletproof gear as it requires quality approval from an FSL before being purchased.
Maharashtra had started taking steps to have the facility earlier this year, after questions were raised about the quality of the bulletproof jacket worn by state anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare when he was fatally shot during the 26/11 attacks.
The Gujarat FSL also started the process of acquiring a laboratory to test the quality of bulletproof jackets and helmets at around the same time. However, unlike Maharashtra, it managed to put the facility in place by September and started testing batches of bulletproof jackets. The Maharashtra FSL proposal is still being processed by the public works department.
MS Dahiya, director, FSL (Ahmedabad), told HT that the testing of bulletproof jackets and helmets had already begun. “It took us around four months to set it up,” he said.
The bulletproof testing facility at Kalina FSL is expected to be set up by early next year. However, a PWD official told HT that there are several stages still left and the project may be completed only in the later part of next year.
“Having a bulletproof testing facility in the state ensures that the batches of jackets and helmets meant for the state police are checked on a priority basis. This ensures that the requirements of such vital security equipment are taken care of in time,” said an FSL official.
“One of the reasons behind the delay is the fact that the PWD will have to construct a separate structure in the Kalina FSL compound to set up the laboratory as the existing ballistic lab is not large enough to ensure that tests can be carried out effectively,” said an official from the Kalina FSL.
The Ahmedabad FSL, on the other hand, had a ballistic laboratory that could be fitted with the additional requirements, and hence no separate structure had to be set up.
Talking about how long it would take to set up the laboratory at Kalina, a PWD official said, “Currently, the file is at the administrative clearance stage. After that, it will be sent to the home department. Thereafter, a technical clearance will have to be sought, which will again be sent to the home department for approval.”
He added, “Once this is done, tenders will be floated, and after funds are released, the work will start.” Once the structure is set up, the FSL will then have to acquire the necessary equipment and staff, after which the tests will start.
A team comprising FSL officials and policemen had gone to the Chandigarh CFSL in February this year to see how it operates, in order to replicate it in the city. The team then put forward a proposal, which was approved in the budget session earlier this year, said an FSL official.