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Thursday, September 6, 2012

‘HPCL, BPCL City Refineries on Terror Radar’

IB's alert comes just days after security agencies busted an inter-state terror module in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra

    The Mumbai Police have been alerted by a chilling intelligence input that claims terrorists may target HPCL and BPCL oil refineries in Mumbai, said a senior state police officer who didn't wish to be named. This comes just days after security agencies busted a suspected inter-state terror module in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. 

Acting on the tip-off, security at these vital oil installations has been beefed up. The intelligence input, which is very specific in nature, says, "Three persons from Aurangabad district in Maharashtra are planning to plant an explosive-laden car in the parking area of a sweet shop near the oil depots of HPCL and BPCL in Mumbai. This could be executed any time in the coming month." 
The Maharashtra's home ministry has 
been informed about the threat and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has summoned additional forces to man the installations along with Mumbai Police. 
Spread across more than 700 acres in 
the Sewri area of Mumbai and close to the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), the two refineries produce close to 20 million tonnes of petroleum products annually. The refineries, along with BARC, are A-Category vital installations in terms of national security. 
HPCL, which has 117 giant tanks, stores over 12 lakh kilo litres of refined and crude oil at any given time. The total number of HPCL and BPCL storage tanks in the refinery area is more than 200 and there are over 20 lakh kilo litres of crude/refined oil stored here at any 
given point of time. 
Security experts claim that an explosion at these installations can be catastrophic and if production is affected at these refineries, supply to Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh will be affected for several days. 
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) on January 10, 2011, after an inspection of the HPCL refinery, had alerted about various security measures. In a letter to HPCL, the IB had said, "David Coleman Headley disclosed during his interrogation that during his nine visits to India (2006-2009), he had identified a large number of sensitive establishments, including economic targets like the Bombay Stock Exchange, World Trade Tower, oil installations and BARC. This puts all the installations at risk." The bureau had again alerted in May this year about threat to oil refineries at Jamnagar and Bhatinda from terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). 

rohit.chandavarkar@timesgroup.com 


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