Thursday, February 14, 2013

Safety audit exposes loopholes at New Delhi railway station

Most fire extinguishers don’t work; several CCTV cameras “defective”, face roof; four out of 12 baggage scanners out of order
Scene at New Delhi railway station.— FILE PHOTO: PTI
Scene at New Delhi railway station.— FILE PHOTO: PTI
The majority of fire extinguishers, 56 out of 64, installed at New Delhi railway station are not working; 10 of the 152 CCTV cameras are “defective” and several others do not monitor properly as they are fixed towards the roof; baggage scanners at the railway station, which has more than five lakh footfall daily, cannot identify explosives and ammunitions on their own, and four out of 12 are “out of order”.
Alarming details
These alarming details about safety measures have been highlighted in the recently-conducted audit of the railway station by the fire safety audit team of Northern Railway. The team submitted its report to the Railway Board.
“Grim picture of fire preparedness”
Talking about the inadequate number of baggage scanners and their quality, the safety audit report says: “Of the total 12 baggage scanners, four were out of order. The security staff deputed at the scanners is able to identify hazardous items like firearms and bombs only on the basis of the shape of the articles. Explosives are not identified by any means by the baggage scanners.”
Talking about the condition of fire extinguishers at the station, the audit report highlights that a majority of them are in non-usable condition.
“Out of total 48 available fire extinguishers at the RPF post, 35 were empty, 11 were due refilling, one was without cap and cartridge, and the remaining one was pressure type. It is surprising to note that none of the parcel staff available was conversant with the working of fire extinguishers,” the report states.
“This shows a very grim picture of fire preparedness at the New Delhi railway station,” it adds.
The report specifically mentions that at the railway station, which receives more than 15,000 parcels on a daily basis, there is no system of checking parcels for explosives.
“All the railway-booked parcels are only weighed and declaration in the manifesto by the booking parties are taken for granted. There is no system of checking the contents of the packages. No technical aids such as X-ray for explosive detection are used to check the contents inside the packages,” says the report.
Sniffer dogs
The safety report says more CCTV cameras are required to secure the 1.9 lakh sq m premises of the station as only five to six cameras per platform were insufficient to monitor the activity on the premises.
Instead of pointing towards passengers, a number of cameras were found focussing towards the roof or the floor below.
Two sniffer dogs are available at the Railway Protection Force post at the railway station and are utilised on Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains during morning and evening hours, says the report.

  • Baggage scanners cannot identify explosives, ammunitions on their own
  • Station receives over 15,000 parcels daily, has no system to check parcels for explosives

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