Tuesday, December 29, 2009
NO SECURITY AGAINST POLITICAL GONDAGIRI
Jolted by spate of attacks on its officials by water protesters, civic body will install sirens in all 24 ward offices that will be sounded if any such threat is perceived
The city’s water crisis has meant sharp criticism for BMC officials from several quarters, with some protesters going to the extent of vandalising civic property and even attacking Hydraulic Department officials. Not wanting to put anyone at risk, the administration has decided, quite literally, to sound off its employees every time a threat is perceived.
Within two weeks, the BMC plans to install sirens at all 24 of its ward offices which, when sounded, will kick-start a security operation.
“As soon as the siren goes off, security officers will be divided into two teams. One team will rush to close down all main gates of that office and another team will concentrate on catching those who have entered the premises,” explained Joint Chief Security Officer (Administration) S D Kulkarni.
“It will be done in a systematic way, so no civic employee is assaulted or humiliated. We are still working on the plan and getting details of each ward’s topographical location,” he said, adding that this will alert employees and security personnel so that damage to property is also minimised.
Another senior official said the BMC – which recently wrote to the police for extra security cover – has decided to hire private security personnel.
“We have a shortage of 500 security personnel; these positions will be filled up by private security guards. We are also identifying sensitive ward offices, where extra security personnel will be deployed.
“They will alert us if anyone is likely to damage property or assault BMC employees by sounding off the siren,” said another senior official.
Sainath Rajadhyaksh, general secretary of BMC Engineers’ Association Union, welcomed the move.
“BMC engineers are vulnerable, so protesters target them. Our morale is low because of assault and face-blackening incidents. We can’t work in such an atmosphere. Targeted staffers become the butt of jokes in their locality,” he said.
RECENT ATTACKS ON BMC
Dec 22: Activists from the NGO Swabhimaan attacked Assistant Engineer Tarang Kumar inside the K/West ward office and blackened his face with ink (pictured below)
Dec 2: Nitesh Rane and Swabhimaan activists entered the BMC Headquarters to protest water shortage and threatened BMC employees. The police resorted to lathi charge
Nov 17: Shiv Sena corporator Mangala Kate; her husband Tukaram Kate, who is a former corporator; and 14 Shiv Sainiks vandalised the hydraulic engineer’s office in the BMC Headquarters