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CCTV allotment leaves questions

RTI activists smell something fishy and Mumbaikars seeks answer from the government.

CCTVEven though more than six years have passed since the 26/11 terror attack occurred in Mumbai but the proposal to install 6000 CCTV cameras in the city is yet to see the light of the day. The government had planned to emulate the London model of surveillance for installing CCTVs in the metropolis. It is known as most surveilled city in the world. However, things are moving at snail’s pace as questions are being raised whether the government is really serious about the city’s security.

RTI activists Anil Galgali, Dr. Raju Waghmare and Shailesh Gandhi smell something fishy about the manner in which the projects has been allotted to a single company. According to them project cost too is inflated as Rs 949 crore is being allocated for installing 6000 CCTV cameras which doesn’t look feasible. The project has already run into trouble several times.

They also said that the government could have instead taken up the project in phases, review the progress and then implement them across the city. Merely installing CCTVs across Mumbai won’t make the city safe as London still remains unsafe despite having improved CCTV surveillance. According to a Maharashtra Home department official the installation of CCTVs is likely to be completed by September next year.

Sailesh-Gandhi“Police cannot be present everywhere. So I think CCTVs will play a positive role in crime prevention. Blame games will not work. BJP will also be judged if they actually execute the project” said Shailesh Gandhi RTI Activist.

Anil“I think CCTVs can be beneficial to curb crime activities in the growing Mumbai population. For example, the Dabholkar and Pansare murder case and many others could be brought to justice with a CCTV recording. The CCTV projects are plagued by ineffective implementation. Moreover, I find that some corruption is involved in this project” said RTI activist Anil Galgali.

Nitin“How they are planning to monitor the CCTV recording as merely installing of CCTV cameras and spending 900 crore rupees won’t work. Also the government has yet not disclosed on how they are going to install the CCTV cameras” said MNS leader Nitin Sardesai.

Mayank-Gandhi“It is the need of the hour to have CCTV cameras for enhancing women’s safety and reducing crime rates. I will have to study the complete process and the 900 hundred crore rupees spent on this project” said Maharashtra AAP leader Mayank Gandhi.

Nawab Malik“Use of technology is welcome, but experts should be monitoring it. The BJP holds Congress-NCP responsible for delay of CCTV project which is unjustified. We had called for bidding of the project many times, and the bid is bagged by the firm which quotes low amount, so it took time. Any technology for betterment of people should be implemented” said Nawab Malik of NCP.

“We started working on this project before 26/11, but we were criticised by BJP-Sena back then for spending on CCTVs rather than equipments for police department. So the project was delayed and priority was given for purchasing jackets, helmets and ammunitions for the police department.”

“The question is the whether the firm to whom they have awarded possess experience in security systems? What was the criteria behind awarding the contract to L&T? Why they have not given the bid to small scale entrepreneurs, companies?”

Bagh“They should have spent the money for the welfare of the police department. The CCTV camera project could have been undertaken in a phased manner. Some corruption is brewing in this project and we will unveil the truth before the people said Raju Waghmare Congress.

An RTI activist Prasad Landhe of Navi Mumbai told this newspaper “The project was earlier proposed during Congress-NCP government after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and has been delayed since then due to various reasons. It could not move ahead despite bids being invited repeatedly. Mumbai doesn’t have that much infrastructure for surveillance. Installation would be done in two three years but maintenance; monitoring and data backup would be big challenge. This is the reason why the project has been delayed.”

The BJP-led government, after coming to power last year, formed a high-powered committee to push the project and agreement for the same was signed in February this year. Mumbai is being divided into two zones for the completion of the project wherein around 1,400 CCTV cameras in the south zone (comprising areas in Central and South Mumbai).

Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said CCTV camera will be fairly helpful to track the cases. Earlier also many crucial cases were dictated and investigated through CCTV footage. He informed that the footage record can be preserved for 30 days and it can be extended even up to 180 days.
MCGM chief Ajoy Mehta told AV that he and his team conducted technical survey across the city. At 437 locations surveyed in the south Mumbai, 556 poles will be erected.

State Home Secretary KP Bakshi informed that first phase will cover south Mumbai and will be completed by November 14, 2015, the second cover comprising north and east Mumbai by April 16,2016 and the third phase consisting of central and western Mumbai by September 17, 2016.

Advocate Gautam Adhikari said, “Government has not specified what kind of surveillance centre will be established. Will there be a real-time response centre with some number of resources stationed 24/7? How was the assessment of the successful vendor/service provider done? Was it techno-commercial or was it only the least cost provider or was it a choice made by the government? Let the government and the contracting company explain the costing. Rs 15.77 lac per camera is a hell lot of money.”

Social Activist and lawyer Paresh Malu said, “The cost of these proposed / tendered cameras is too much higher than the previous government’s tenders. It appears that BJP is not spending public money sensibly. The question comes after the purchase and installation warranty.”

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