Mumbai underground: Mantralaya makes noise

The noise created by a drilling machine being used to repair Mantralaya after the fire last June is giving headache to employees, especially those sitting close to the drilling site. After enduring the high decibels for more than two weeks, Satish Lalit, public relations officer of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, wrote a letter to Unity Infrastructure, which is carrying out the repairs, to provide ear plugs to all Mantralaya employees.

"We have lost peace of mind. The work is expected to last three more weeks. It is impossible to work in such a situation. I have not received a reply yet (from Unity Infrastructure)," said Lalit.

Tell-tale signs

Hundreds of phone numbers have been scribbled on the walls of the office of Mumbai Police Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU). Five years ago, JAPU employed more than 200 people to rescue juveniles who had wandered into the city and needed to be transported back home.

But as the number of juveniles to be rescued declined, the staff was shunted to other departments, leaving only 20-odd in JAPU. The only remaining sign of those busy times being the phone numbers.

"The officers, mostly women, scribbled all the numbers they needed to remember on walls behind their desks for instant recall. The numbers are all five years old, but we have not scrubbed them off," said a constable.

Women-wary officer

An IPS officer ensures a woman constable is in his chamber every time he has a woman visitor. The officer has been following this since his probation days. He says there is "no story", he "has gone by instinct". A woman constable walks in the minute a woman visitor enters his cabin. The constable sits through the meeting, making mental notes and leaves only after the visitor has walked out. "The (system) is very bad. It's very dirty. One does not want to take chances," he says.

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