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The Rediff Special/ Josy Joseph in New Delhi
21st century security for Parliament
May 26, 2004
Since the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament, the government has taken several steps to make the seat of Indian democracy more secure.
New members of the Lok Sabha will discuss matters of State in a House, surrounded by barricades and sophisticated barriers making it less prone to terrorist attacks.
Entry to the Parliament complex will be regulated using radio frequency tags, which will be incorporated in identity cards.
"By the middle of this session, or definitely by the next session, entry to the entire Parliament complex would be allowed only after verification of these tags," says a senior official in Parliament.
The tags would be compulsory both for individuals as well as cars and other vehicles.
The Electronic Corporation of India Limited has designed the sophisticated cards that will be verified at each gate by a computerised system.
"The tag would provide relevant information, including a photograph, of the member," he said, adding the card would go a long way in ensuring that unauthorised persons do not get entry into the complex.
"Employees have already been given the tags. All the MPs and their vehicles would be issued tags during the first session itself," the official said.
Journalists who regularly cover Parliament proceedings would also be issued the tags within the next two sessions.
A process is underway to issue the tags to over 2,000 employees in the Parliament complex. "Already most of them have got them," he said.
For those who come in large numbers to witness Parliament sessions or to meet MPs would be issued paper passes that can be read by the computer network. Similar passes would be issued to journalists covering Parliament sessions.
Entry to the complex will be through designated gates.
"There won't be any change in the entry points (since the last session). The only difference from now onwards would be that we would have radio frequency identification systems placed at each of the gates to check the tags of vehicles and individuals entering the complex," the official said.
The Parliament complex has 12 gates, but security forces shuffle entry points for employees and others as part of a security drill.
Lok Sabha Secretary General G C Malhotra says a new security system costing Rs 108 crore (Rs 1.08 billion) has been installed to ensure that no vehicle can force its way into the complex.
If a vehicle tries to force its way into the complex, as it happened during the terrorist attack in December 2001, then flap barriers would spring up to block it.
"Our security personnel wouldn't have to risk their lives by jumping in front and confront such a vehicle," says the official.
The flap barriers are supported by equally sophisticated boom barriers and road blockers imported from the United States and Germany respectively.
Only vehicles carrying the vice-president, prime minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and others who face a high level of security threat would be allowed to park inside the complex. "Vehicles carrying ministers and MPs will drop them at the entrance to the building and drive out of the complex," he said.
"We carried out an extensive study of the security system in the wake of the attack on Parliament. We implemented the new system after gathering inputs from intelligence agencies, special forces and local security agencies," one of the officials said.
The first session of the Lok Sabha would be about 10 days --- new members will be sworn in, the President will address a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and a vote-on-account will be passed.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has set up guideposts at the three railway stations in the National Capital Region and at the domestic airport to help Lok Sabha members coming in from around the country. It is also providing temporary accommodation at Hotel Janpath for MPs who do not have accommodation in Delhi.
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