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Why are intelligence reports on security of oil refineries like BPCL and HPCL being ignored?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 - 9:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

After highlighting the security loopholes in the airport, dna exposes the vulnerability of the two oil refineries in Trombay to terror strikes in the light of the second Taliban attack on Pakistan's Karachi airport on Tuesday.

The state has held an indifferent attitude towards intelligence warnings regarding the BPCL refinery that has a production capacity of 5.5 million tonnes. This is supposed to be raised to 7.9 million tonnes. HPCL on the other hand has a capacity of 6.5 million tonnes, which will be increased to 10 million tonnes.

In fact, when the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) proposed a massive project just a stone's throw from the BPCL refinery, the management raised strong objections. The Intelligence Bureau prepared a threat-perception report that clearly said the SRA project could pose a serious threat to the refinery because terrorists could sneak into the housing complex and target the refinery with rockets and other weapons.

But the Maharashtra government ignored BPCL's pleas and the Centre too refused to intervene. BPCL moved court and the Supreme Court asked the company to work out a compromise with the state government. As per the formula, four buildings of the SRA project facing the refinery would house policemen.

A BPCL source told dna on Tuesday that having police quarters was not the solution. "Policemen will be away on duty and their families will live in these flats. How does this guarantee security? It is sad that a public sector undertaking had to file a petition against the government to ensure the security of its installation. The government on its own ought to have disallowed the SRA project, especially since the IB report is categorically against the venture," he said.

Constructions have come up near the HPCL refinery as well despite the management's objections. Dilip Sawant, former DCP of the area, had carried out a lone battle against such constructions and had put in his strong objections in writing. But no one paid heed to him.

Dhananjay Kamalakar, JCP, law&order, said: "These refineries are guarded by well-trained CISF men. Also, the city police is providing adequate security, including deploying Quick Response Teams (QRTs)."

But many in the police wonder if the CISF and the local police are trained to thwart a determined attack of the kind that was witnessed at Karachi airport. Taliban men in security personnel's uniform attacked the airport with rocket launchers and other sophisticated weapons.

In the case of the refineries, hardly any security check is conducted daily on the road leading to the two huge refineries in Trombay, which also has the Tata thermal power station and the BARC complex. So far, not a single security or fire drill has been conducted by the disaster management in the heavily-populated area.

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