M A I N   N E W S

Post 26/11
Reliance, Tatas getting into security business
Shiv Kumar/TNS

Mumbai, November 24
Three years after terrorists from Pakistan landed in Mumbai and targeted prominent landmarks in the city, corporate houses, information technology parks, shopping malls, government establishments and even ordinary housing societies have now started exploring the option of hiring private agencies for security.

Considering the growth potential, corporate biggies are also entering the security business. Reliance Industries Limited recently signed an MoU with Siemens “to jointly develop homeland security solutions for safe, secure and smart cities and highways in India,” according to a company statement.

Reliance, which will roll out its 4G telecommunications network next year, plans to integrate Siemens’ surveillance technology to secure public areas in the country, a statement released by the company at the time of signing the MoU said.

According to the RIL, it has already acquired considerable expertise in the business by virtue of the in-house security solutions it provides to its critical installations like refineries, oil rigs, and drilling platforms.

The company claims it has “designed and operates the world’s largest integrated security automation system consisting of over 12,000 cameras apart from tens of thousands of other advanced security sensors, radars and video analytics”.

Corporate houses like L&T, the Tatas and the Mahindras have also made forays into the security business.

Private agencies, which earlier used to provide untrained village boys armed with sticks to stand guard at various places, are now moving to recruit ex-servicemen and retired commandos from the armed forces. The biggest demand for trained security personnel comes from shopping malls and multiplexes that see huge crowds, particularly on weekends.

“With the police issuing frequent warnings about terrorist attacks, malls are looking at comprehensive security solutions,” says Jasbir Singh, a retired Army officer who provides trained personnel to commercial establishments.

According to Jasbir, business establishments are required to install closed-circuit televisions that record the entry and exit of people. They are also required to check the undercarriages of incoming vehicles for explosives. “In case of any suspected objects, we are asked to bring in sniffer dogs to carry out searches,” he says. The demand for sniffer dogs and trained personnel has gone up following the 26/11 terror attacks and subsequent bomb blasts in Mumbai city, he adds.

Faced with pressure from the corporate sector, even the government is moving towards roping in private companies and foreign experts to beef up security. The Maharashtra Government has announced plans to install 5,000 closed-circuit televisions across Mumbai. However, the task of collating the footage collected by the CCTVs is proving to be a tough task. “The work is delayed because we are still in the process of selecting the appropriate software to scan images,” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters recently.

With all major companies looking at deploying armed personnel as a major component of their security business, the government is under pressure to liberalise rules to allow import of firearms in bulk by these players.

According to sources, the Maharashtra Government has forwarded a proposal to the Centre to amend the Arms Act so that recognised private security agencies are given permits to import weapons in bulk. Among other things, the norms under consideration will specify criteria for recruiting security personnel and establishment of armouries to store weapons, according to sources.





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