Six months after the Bombay High Court directed its official liquidator to upgrade the security of the Shakti Mills premises, the 25,067-sq m property is on its way to becoming impervious to trespassing.
Following the gangrape of a photojournalist on August 22, 2013, the High Court had asked the official liquidator, custodian of the property, to complete the process of securing the compound in three phases that entailed clearing of shrubbery, fencing and sealing the premises and finally, electrification to keep the premises well-lit at night.
“The first phase has been completed. A wall has been constructed around the compound. Phase two should be completed in the next 15 days after the fencing and erection of the main gate is completed,” said assistant official liquidator Rupa Sutar.
The state PWD, the nodal agency to carry out the work of securing the mill, had informed court that the estimated cost for clearing and securing the compound in Mahalaxmi would be Rs 1.58 crore. The court was told that a corpus of Rs 1.5 crore was available with the official liquidator after paying off the dues of the erstwhile synthetic yarn mill that wound up in January 1981. The official liquidator has so far paid Rs 17 lakh for phase one.
Nisar Ahmad, a guard from Deepak Security Agency, said, “Till February 2013, Garuda Security Agency guarded the mill compound. But after the contract expired, no new security agency was hired. It was only after the incident in August that Deepak Security Agency was roped in by the liquidator’s office.”
The compound has been transformed over the last six months. Trains are now visible from the main entrance of the mill and cracks and gaps on the rail-side wall have been filled up. “Once the barbed wire fence is in place, the rail-side entrance will be secure,” said Ahmad’s colleague, Akbar Ali.
The security beef-up, however, has not deterred all trespassers. “We still spot a few drug addicts. We are instructed to call the police the minute we spot anything suspicious. A team always reaches in five minutes,” said Ahmad.