Thousands of commuters using the sprawling Churchgate station are apparently relieved over the removal of the 18 Door-Frame Metal Detectors (DFMDs) kept at the various entrances of the station. Officials said the DFMDs were removed over the past couple of days.
The DFMDs, one of the most controversial aspects of the post-11/7 train blasts security measures, had to be removed as many of them had started malfunctioning owing to age, most of them being more than four years old.
According to officials, the various motormen strikes, when crowd movement is at its most chaotic at Churchgate station, had also damaged many of the DFMDs extensively.
While many of the commuters DNA spoke to welcomed the ‘clean and clear’ passages at Churchgate, Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials said they don’t plan to discontinue the machines for eternity.
“We agree that they have not been very effective, mainly because of the fact that DFMDs are meant for places which are accessed by a few hundreds, like malls or theatres, rather than a place like Churchgate which sees over a million people a day. But it is still too early to say if we can entirely do away with them,” said an RPF officer.
If at all the DFMDs are replaced in the next couple of months, they will be replaced with DFMDs that have closed circuit television cameras on them. “As manning a DFMD is not possible because of shortage of manpower, CCTVs on DFMDs would help us in case of any untoward incident in any part of the station,” the officer said.
DFMDs have been a contentious issue at both Western Railway and Central Railway, with officials at both places believing that they have been of no use whatsoever in securing railway stations.
“We don’t have enough DFMDs to ensure that every entrance is covered, and that makes them redundant. It only obstructs the flow of people at places like Churchgate and CST. It is better to use the funds available in buying sniffer dogs or closed circuit television cameras,” said an officer.