Pump gives RBI the security scare

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 5 2009, 07:46am hrs
Two days after the ill-fated 26/11 terrorist attacks, there were rumours that the central office of the Reserve Bank of India, which is in the same locale, as the other targets, was under attack. While the rumours were put to rest immediately, the fact that this extremely important structure faces a security threat still remains.

A recent missive from the Intelligence Bureau to RBI has reiterated the security threat and it has called for tightening the security to avoid untoward incidents. Similar information has also been conveyed to the Maharashtra government so that adequate security cover is provided.

In this context, RBI has approached the Maharashtra government on January 1 seeking its assistance to tackle the issue by tightening the security.

Apart from a general security threat, RBI has brought to the state governments notice that a petrol pump situated at the plot adjacent to the RBI buildings entrance is also a matter of worry. Such issues were not a matter of concern in the eighties when the building was inaugurated. Architects Phiroze Kudianwala & Co and builders Shapoorji Pallonji & Co, like anybody else at that time, would not have seen the IBP petrol pump as a possible threat. The structure was built into the mint compound, adjacent to the central office.

With a petrol pump so close to the structure, which again is bang on the main road on Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, could be a tempting proposition for fidayeen , says a security expert not wanting to be named. We could have a JW Marriot-like scenario where terrorists drove in with a truck loaded with explosives and damaged the structure.

Hence, the central bank has called upon the state government to allot an alternative site for the petrol pump before January 7. A formal allotment of an alternative site before January 7 will resolve the issue and obviate any prolonged delay that litigation entails. This may kindly be considered and necessary action (taken) at your end, in the interests of security and safety in the present scenario, RBI said in its January 1 communication to the state government. RBIs letter is in FEs possession.

RBI submitted that the Bombay Hich Court has passed an interim order to maintain status quo till relocation of the petrol pump and the next hearing is scheduled for January 7. We are examining an option of RBI to implead itself in the case filed by the petrol pump dealer. In this context, we feel that working together, RBI and the government can achieve our aim of expeditiously removing the grave security threat posed by the present location of the petrol pump near RBI central office building, RBI noted.