The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will soon deploy 1,000 security guards at various public places across the city. This may soothe a few frayed nerves as serious doubts are being raised over the civic body's ability to protect citizens on roads, public squares, parks and beaches, especially in the backdrop of the alleged gang rape of woman at the Churchgate subway.
Though the BMC claims that compulsory security guards have been posted at many subways under its jurisdiction, they shut the exits of the underpasses and leave after 10pm, leaving the spots deserted. While the police investigating the rape claim, assistant commissioner of A ward Devidas Kshirsagar said that even though the ward maintains the subway, they are not directly concerned with the security aspect. "The security aspect lies with the Bridges department or the security department," said Kshirsagar.
A staffer from the security department admitted that the BMC had fewer guards and has at times many of them remain absent. "However, we have recently recruited 1,000 new guards who are undergoing a month-long army training. They are also being trained in disaster response," the official said. He added that the personnel will be posted at BMC-maintained public places once they complete their training.
Most subways in the city have the dubious distinction of being dens for junkies and anti-social elements in the night. Commuters say they dread the Sion and the Haji Ali subways the most. Mahalaxmi resident Ami Parekh said, "I prefer jaywalking to using the Haji Ali subway while going to office as I don't feel safe on the passageway."
Additional Municipal Commissioner S V R Srinivas said security at subway is primarily the concern of the police. He said, "Subways are public spaces built and maintained by the civic body. Even though our guards are there till 10pm, it is the police who are responsible for the security."