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Scanners at rly station an 'eyewash'

Vishal Kant, New Delhi, Feb 8, 2013, DHNS : 2:38 IST

Machines unable to detect weapons at NDLS, finds audit

At least four of the 12 scanners installed at the New Delhi railway station are out of order. Dh Photo
All passengers visiting New Delhi railway station have to stand in a long queue to get their luggage screened. But the baggage scanners at the busy station appear to be mere eyewash.

An assessment by the fire safety audit team has come up with a shocker.

The audit reports highlighted that at least four of the 12 scanners installed at the station were out of order. Moreover, none of the scanners were technically equipped to detect weapons and explosives on their own.

“The staff is able to identify hazardous items such as firearms, bombs, etc only on the basis of the shape of the article. Explosives were not identified by any means by the baggage scanners,” the report reads.

In effect, the likelihood of weapons or explosives getting detected depends on the alertness and expertise of those manning the scanners and not the machine itself.

Ironically, when Deccan Herald on Friday did a reality check at the busy station, it found some of the policemen manning the scanners either talking on their mobile phones or paying more attention to the activities on the platforms, rather than on the scanner screens.

The report also highlighted that the station is yet to commission the vapour-based detection system that is crucial in detecting explosives. Such instruments are in operation at Delhi Metro and Delhi airport.

“A vapour detector acts like sniffer dogs. It can smell even a small piece of explosive,” said a senior CISF official, in charge of Delhi Metro security.

Officials claimed they keep increasing the number of scanners at the station as per the requirement and the vapour-based detection sytem too would be inducted soon.

“There is a plan of inducting at least 12 vapour detectors. They would be pressed into service soon,” said Anurag Sachan, divisional railway manager (Delhi).

The audit report also revealed that there is no mechanism for screening the packages handled at the parcel office.

“No technical aids such as X-ray for explosive detection are used to check the contents. All the lease and railway-booked parcels are only weighed and the declaration in the manifesto by the booking party is taken for granted,” the audit report said.

Officials argued that technical aids have not been put in place due to the heavy volume of parcels being handled at the station.

“The volume of parcels handled at the station is much higher than that at an airport. I would admit that there is no provision for screening the content of packages at this stage,” said Sachan.

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