A mobile X-ray-and-explosives-scanner van procured at a cost of Rs 8 crore after the 26/11 terror attacks is proving a white elephant for the Mumbai Police,as it has been unused for nearly a year owing to technical snags.
To make matters worse,the police have now been told that it will cost Rs 75 lakh for repairs,and an additional Rs 75 lakh for an annual maintenance contract,top police sources told Newsline.
According to the sources,the police brass is not keen on spending such large amounts on the vehicle,as it has not proved effective in policing.
Newsline has also learnt that besides the van,the Mumbai Police are in a quandary on what to do with the thousands of outdated .303 rifles in its armoury. Sources said the police have asked the state government whether they can be modified into shotguns,or given away to the National Cadet Corps (NCC). The mobile X-ray and scanner fitted in a Mercedes van was given to the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad during the post-26/11 capacity-building drive undertaken by the Mumbai Police. Bought from the US firm American Science and Engineering,the scanner was meant to detect explosives within a 100-metre radius. However,it was later found to have only a 10-metre range.
Sources also said the machine had been rejected by the Hyderabad Police after trials.
The van has been unused for nearly a year due to technical problems. Its annual maintenance contract expired in 2010. We have recently been told it will cost Rs 75 lakh to get it operational again,and an additional Rs 75 lakh for an annual maintenance contract, said a top Mumbai Police officer,who did not wish to be named.
It is pointless putting so much money into a van that has not even proved its worth. It has been found that it has served no major purpose since it was acquired, said the officer.
The Mumbai Police is also in a fix on what to do with its .303 rifles. According to sources,around 16,000 such rifles need to be discarded,as self-loading rifles are now used by the force.
For a force of around 50,000 men,the number of .303 rifles in the armoury is roughly one-third this number. These rifles are outdated,and are being replaced with SLRs. The issue is how to dispose of the thousands of .303 rifles. We have asked the state government whether they can be sawed and modified into double-barrel shotguns. The other alternative is to give them away to the NCC. A decision will be taken soon, said a senior Mumbai Police officer,on condition of anonymity.
A review conducted by the Mumbai Police in August last year had also revealed that over 30 per cent of the small firearms in its armoury at the time were defective. Of around 1,500 such weapons,which comprised 9mm pistols and 0.38 bore revolvers,defects of various sorts were found in 500 firearms. These findings were part of a report sent by the Local Arms department to the Mumbai Police headquarters.