Over 100 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the Walled City in 2014 to curb crime and encroachments are nothing more than showpieces.
“When theft or murder takes place in our area, we cannot hope it will be solved as police cannot retrace the sequence of events. And it has happened in various cases,” said Lajpat Rai Market resident Arvind Upadhyay.
A senior police officer said Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad, a congested heritage locality that abounds in markets, witnesses a rising crime rate. “Every day, we have complaints of theft at our police stations,” he said.
Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), a Public Sector Undertaking of the Union government, installed the cameras all over the area. Control rooms were set up at police stations in Kotwali and Jama Masjid with all equipment such as monitors, desktops, landlines and microphones. Officials even held a month-long trial run, sources said.
Just when ECIL was about to handover the cameras to Delhi Police, public works department started digging roads for Old Delhi’s redevelopment. The project involves beautification, widening of roads, laying pavements and fixing dangling cables.
In the process, CCTV camera wires were dislocated and the security gadgets have been defunct since.
“We have already handed over the cameras to the police. The responsibility lies with them,” said a senior ECIL officer.
“The cameras were never handed over to us. Before we could get them from ECIL, they stopped working. We have taken up this issue many times with them,” said deputy commissioner of police (north), Madhur Verma. He was the DCP of the district till Tuesday evening.
The non-functional cameras have stoked the concerns of residents, traders as well police.
“In the backdrop of this problem, we recently had to get some cameras which are installed at major points,” said the senior police officer.
Traders said the administration holds meetings, but is yet to decide on a solution. “We see temporary cameras only on Independence Day, which are later removed. Our association has written many times to police to take preventive measures,” said Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal general secretary, Sanjay Bhargav.
Sources said PWD told ECIL to consider setting up Wi-Fi cameras. However, the latter explained they may not be effective given how crowded the area is. PWD has asked ECIL to use overhead wiring till Shahjahanabad redevelopment, which is in its initial stages, is completed.
“We don’t want the security of the area be compromised. The issue of CCTV cameras was recently taken up with ECIL and they have been asked to submit their reply in this regard,” said Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation managing director, Faizi O Hashmi.
Meanwhile, traders say the redevelopment did not benefit anyone. Though roads were widened and developed, illegal traders and hawkers continued their business unhindered.