Installing CCTV cameras in Delhi’s buses, one of the key promises of the Aam Aadmi Party, seems to be on the back burner for now. The Delhi government has slashed 98% of the Rs 100 crore-budget meant for the project.
An internal audit of expenditures of the transport department till January this year shows that the state fund of Rs 90 crore for the project was revised to Rs 1 crore in January for the 2016-17 fiscal. An additional allocation of Rs 10 crore from the Centre for the same work was cut to Rs 1 crore.
Besides, not a single rupee has been spent from the funds for installing CCTV cameras in DTC and cluster buses so far. The reason is the government’s own agencies are at loggerheads over the implementation of the project.
The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) that had executed its pilot project in 200 buses said the work had shifted to the state transport department but the latter insisted the DTC was in charge.
“The board had decided over five months ago that the transport department issue tenders for all the buses. But, it is yet to do so,” a DTC official said.
Sources in the government said the transport department, on the other hand, proposed that DTC should get the project done. “The cabinet note for this is pending in the general administration department for nearly two months. It got slowed down because of the municipal elections. The budget was slashed because the funds could not be utilised,” a source said.
Delhi transport commissioner Vikram Dev Dutt refused to comment and instead suggested we should contact the DTC. Asked about the 2017-18 budget allocation for the project, the transport department said money was not an issue as the government could reallocate funds whenever the project begins.
The AAP’s flagship promises of having cameras in buses and free Wi-Fi found no mention in this year’s budget. In the 2016 budget, the Delhi government had allocated Rs 200 crore for a “new CCTV scheme”, which included the ones to be put in buses.
In his first budget presentation in 2015, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had promised to provide CCTV cameras in all DTC and cluster buses. Their combined fleet as of now is over 5,600.
From its pilot project, DTC found that cameras in buses acted as a deterrent to crime in buses. “It helped in solving crime cases in buses, including harassment of women, theft or damaging of buses. Besides giving a sense of security to commuters, it improves driving habits and helps in accident analysis and monitoring a conductor’s performance on duty,” the DTC official said.
The estimated cost of CCTV cameras in 6,655 buses for five years was around Rs 125 crore. After addition of TV screens in each bus, the project cost was pegged at Rs 140 crore.
The government while announcing the project had said that installation of CCTVs will help check attempt of violence against women or harassment in buses. But even two years later, the project remains a distant dream.