Sniffer dog shortage on Central Railway

A 2008 report by a committee appointed by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) on augmentation of police dogs at railway station recommended one dog for every 8 trains. Pune Railway Station should at least have 18 sniffer dogs by that count. RPF has 2 sniffer dogs which are mostly overworked. According to sources, other sniffer dogs had died a few months ago and replacements are not been given. “While it is pertinent that each train leaving the station should be inspected by sniffer dogs, GRP and RPF inspect the station premises, waiting rooms and circulating areas only. They hardly check trains,” said a railway official. “A policeman has a shift of 8 hours but the dogs work 15 to 16 hours everyday. The dogs are also not given proper medical care and rest. We have reason to believe that overwork and neglect was responsible for the death of a dog recently,” Harsha Shah, activist said.

While Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) claim that security at the Pune Station has been stepped up in the wake of the Bodhgaya terror attack, a visit to the station reveals that these claims are not substantiated. Security bunkers have been raised at two entry points. But at least 10 to 12 entry points, including the most busy ones, remain unmanned. While railway officials maintain that securing the station was GRP’s responsibility, the latter blame the Railway Administration for lack of interest in setting up the security apparatus. Also Railways’ plan to install 42 new CCTV cameras at the station remains on the drawing board.

Following the Bodhgaya blasts, the GRP set up three police bunkers, one each at the main entrance, GRP station and Accounts Office Gate. The last one was dismantled. Similarly, though the entry points at the Comesum restaurant and Krishna restaurant have been plugged, several others remain open, especially the ramp next to the reservation center which is among the busiest.

The escalator is devoid of a jammer or police guard. Similarly the entrance at the reservation centre, current booking counters, parcel office, the one close to Maldhakka, the Tadiwala Road entrance, an entry point at Central Cabin, several entry points close to Alankar Bridge and the one at Loco Shed remain unmanned and can be used as easy access points by anti-social elements.

Similarly, the improved CCTV surveillance system planned for Pune station is nowhere in sight. Under the programme, the station is supposed to get 46 advanced CCTV cameras which will have better image and prove instrumental in improving vigilance at the station.

According to Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group, this lack of seriousness and blame game among different agencies may result in passengers losing their lives.