BENGALURU: Even as the brand new Sir M Visvesvaraya terminal at Baiyappanahalli awaits inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, minor thefts of all kinds are reported to be taking place here on a regular basis. To counter it, the Railways has now deputed the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to guard the sprawling premises 24x7.
The presence of two major slum pockets in the vicinity is stated to be a reason for the thefts, according to eyewitnesses at the spot. Another version states that some contractors hired to effect infrastructure work in the terminal have themselves pocketed some of the items.
Electrical sockets, sophisticated bulbs, flower pots, construction material (which are yet to be removed as some final touches are being given), plastic pipes and steel rods are among items which have gone missing from the station.
Top railway officials were reluctant to discuss the issue and sought to play it down. One official said, "Just like how thefts take place in your area and everywhere in the city, it is happening there too."
The terminal is expected to have one of the best CCTV arrangements in the country. However, none of the cameras have been put up as of now for fear they might get stolen or damaged unless the station becomes operational. "We also have many TV display screens that highlight train schedule, speakers and water taps in our possession and have stored them in godowns. None of them have been put up as of now," said a senior railway official. "It will only take one day for officers to install them. As soon as the launch date is confirmed, we plan to put them up," he added.
"We had requested RPF protection for the safekeep of the station and have got it now," the official added.
Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee told The New Indian Express, "RPF has already put into place authorised access control and are going to enforce the station security plan. The list of CCTV cameras and security gadgets to be installed have been given to the Constructions department of the South Western Railway. This was decided upon after a joint survey by top officers of the Government Railway Police, RPF and the Signalling and Telecommunication department of the Railways."
When this reporter visited the spot a month ago, a cop stationed there recalled multiple instances of young boys from slums nearby coming over late at nights, stealing construction material put there and making good their escape. "In one instance, a lad brought his scooter, placed many long pipes in front and left. I literally ran behind him on a major chase but could not nab him. Once they enter the slum area, we do not know the way around but they know it well," he said.
Unless there is some kind of patrolling done by local police, the public visiting this station will have an unsafe travelling experience, the cop added.