Chandigarh moots underground nuke shelter for 'top brass'

Of all places in the world that might be in the direct line of fire of nuclear and chemical warfare, Chandigarh city is most worried.

The Chandigarh administration has mooted setting up of an underground safe house shelter for its "top brass" in case of a chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) attack on the city.

This "CBRN safe house" — to cost approximately Rs 40 crore — would be built 2 to 5 metres underground and could house the city's top IAS and IPS officers for at least seven days in an emergency, according to the minutes of the meetings and memo sent by former IGP, P K Srivastava, to the UT Home Secretary, Anil Kumar, (copies of which have been accessed by The Sunday Express).

Though there is little information available in the public domain on CBRN safe houses, it is reliably learnt that such facilities have been set up by the Army across the country. Chandigarh administration, however, is probably the first civil administration in the country keen on saving its top bureaucrats and police officers. In others nations, including the US and some European countries, safe houses are built for the community near hospitals and schools.

According to sources, the idea of an underground control room for the city's police was announced in 2012 by former IG P K Srivastava. It was pointed out that Chandigarh was following the footsteps of Delhi and Mumbai police. However, over the months, the idea of underground control room gave way to that of a "safe house" for VVIPs. These "integrated field shelters" could be used for several days and have their own source for power, water and sewage disposal.

Later, a UP-based company which had some experience of setting up such a facility, claimed in a presentation that it worked under the guidance of the Defense Research Development Organisation and proposed a basic underground bunk-based structure for 30 people. But the Chandigarh administration was reportedly not impressed.

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