No bomb suits in Pune, police use bullet-proof jackets
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When members of Pune police's Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) were defusing two unexploded bombs and one detonator on J M Road on Wednesday, only one policeman had a protective suit, which was torn and 12 years old. Others used bullet-proof jackets, which hardly protect against bombs.
Reason: the Maharashtra government's failure to buy bomb suits despite floating nearly 10 tenders since 2007. In fact, a fortnight before Wednesday's blasts, Pune police had written to the state police chief on July 13 asking for six bomb suits. It was the third such request besides the numerous reminders since the February 2010 German Bakery blast.
"In spite of promises by senior officers and politicians, we have not got suits. It was really foolish to face live IEDs with bullet-proof jackets," said a BDDS personnel who was a part of the J M Road team. Police sources told The Sunday Express that the state government has called for bids to supply suits nearly 10 times in the last five years but each time the deal has been scrapped or stuck in controversies.
Although the procurement of arms and equipment went into overdrive after the 26/11 Mumbai attack, a January 2009 proposal to buy 80 bomb suits for the state has been embroiled in a dispute over quality.
The case is being probed by Mumbai police while notices have been issued to a senior IPS officer and a government official for "administrative misconduct" in the deal, said Raj Khilnani, DGP of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. "The supplier had taken customs exemptions for suits manufactured in the US but supplied pieces made in China," Khilnani added.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan refused to comment when asked on Saturday when the state government would buy new bomb protection suits for the BDDS.
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