Bomb suits stuck in rulebooks: RR

Minister says following rules has become more important than meeting requirements in time

The procurement of bomb suits that had run into a controversy in 2009 has been stuck even as the bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) waits for the essential and urgent requirement to arrive.

On Tuesday, on the sidelines of a function in Pune, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the delay was caused by the need to follow rules. "Rules are more important now than fulfilling requirements in time...We did the purchase (of bomb suits), but there was a problem over quality. So the deal was stuck and now the price has increased...There is only one lab in the country in Chandigarh where we have to send samples (of bomb suit) for quality tests. We cannot purchase the suit until we get the report from Chandigarh. It will take time. But following rules has become more important than time in which the requirement has to be fulfilled...There is the CAG. We also have to answer opposition parties and the media if rules are not followed," Patil told Newsline, replying to a query on the delay.

Patil, who was in Pune to attend the passing out parade of the 100th batch of jail guards at the Daulatrao Jadhav Jail Officers Training School in Yerawada, was addressing queries of the media after the function.

The delay has been much talked about, in particular after the J M Road blasts of August 1, when the Pune unit of the BDDS, which has only one protective bomb suit and that too an outdated one had worn bulletproof jackets while defusing two bombs.

After growing incidents of terror, several proposals for purchase of protective bomb suits for the state police force had been sent to the government. The government had been floating tenders since 2007 for bomb suits, but the BDDS has not got any till date.

After the 26/11 terror attack, a tender for 80 suits was floated in January 2009. The tender was awarded to Techno Trade Impex India Pvt Limited of Mumbai and an order for 82 suits was placed. In June 2009, the government paid about Rs 6.2 crore to the firm. However, when the firm supplied the suits, the government refused to accept them over quality concerns. The state Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had initiated probe into the matter and in August 2012, Bimal Agarwal, director of Techno Trade Impex was arrested on charges of cheating and forgery for allegedly supplying inferior quality bomb suits.

The Pune BDDS had placed an order for six bomb suits just a fortnight before the J M Road blasts. But no bomb suit has reached the squad so far.

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