Don’t have enough manpower, will not guard new stations on Mumbai’s harbour line: GRP
It is estimated that they guard over 75-85 lakh commuters across 136 stationsmumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2018 12:14 IST
Seven proposed railway stations in the extended Harbour Line could be without security because Mumbai’s Government Railway Police (GRP) says it doesn’t have the necessary manpower.
Last week, the staff-starved GRP informed the state government that it would not be able to provide security at the seven proposed railway stations (and trains) that are to come up on the extended section of the Harbour line in Navi Mumbai, covering the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (NAINA). Work on the new line, connecting Seawood and Uran, is presently underway. Work on the first phase, comprising four stations, is likely to be completed by July this year.
“We have apprised the government of our reservations in providing manpower for the new line,” additional director general of police (AdGP) Jai Jeet Singh said. “As such our force is overstretched to meet the present load. There has been no incremental increase in [staff] numbers over the years, though the volume of commuters and rail traffic has grown exponentially. There has been a corresponding growth in crimes too.”
At present, the GRP, which is responsible for the safety of rail passengers and entrusted with guarding coaches and platforms, comprises 4,163 personnel. It is estimated that they guard over 75-85 lakh commuters across 136 stations – their jurisdiction has been extended to stations as far as Kasara, Ratnagiri and Dahanu on the three lines –daily.
“As such we have a shortfall of around 550 staff. If the additional responsibility was to be given, we require 1,250 more,” said a senior GRP official on condition of anonymity.
Since its inception in 1982, the GRP has had only 100 personnel added to its numbers in the last three and half decades. This sanction for additional manpower came after the 2009 Mumbai terror attacks. In comparison, the strength of Mumbai police has increased from 22,000 to 49,000 over the same period. “Though crime on railways and city police witnessed a similar growth pattern with the increase in population, the GRP lacked resources and manpower when it came to meeting the challenges,” the official said.
One of the reasons for understaffing is a stalemate between the railways and the state. Following a public interest litigation in Bombay high court in 2014, the railway agreed to provide matching grants with the state to foot the cost of new recruits. “Nothing has come from them (railway) so far,” said a GRP official.
Additionally, the GRP has felt itself overextended because of the dramatic increase in their caseload ever since AdGP Singh instructed the 17 police stations in the GRP’s jurisdiction to make the registration of first information reports (FIR) mandatory, a year ago. According to sources in the GRP, this has resulted in an estimated 800% growth in their crime statistics. “We are struggling to investigate such large number of cases,” said an official. “Under these circumstances, how is it possible to cover seven more stations?”