Tourists visiting Darjeeling hills in West Bengal can feel safer as police have got more eyes to monitor crimes against women, hit and run cases and theft. The blueprint is to install the cameras in such a way that no vehicle can enter, or leave, the hill town without being recorded by some of these remote eyes.
Darjeeling district police have installed 65 cameras in strategic locations in Darjeeling town including approach roads. The important locations of the entire district will come under video surveillance by the end of the month.
Darjeeling is one of the most popular hill stations in the country with more than 6.20 lakh domestic and about 50,000 foreign tourists visiting it in 2016.
“The installation of cameras would make the place safer for tourists. The cameras will also help in controlling crime again women,” said Darjeeling district police super Amit P Javalgi. Vehicles fleeing after accidents can’t escape surveillance.
However, the district police boss added that Darjeeling is not a crime prone area. There have been few records of crime against tourists in many years, Javalgi told Hindustan Times. But the police are trying to take proactive steps to make the tourists feel abundantly safe.
Theft of vehicles is a problem in the town and its surroundings.
Samrat Sanyal the president of Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association (EHTTOA) said “Though Darjeeling has always been safe for tourists the video surveillance will reassure their confidence.”
Javalgi said that policing would be made better through technology intervention. The cameras are of high quality with zooming facilities. Some of them will be able to capture visuals at 360 degree angles.
A sum of Rs 40 lakh provided by West Bengal transport department has already been spent for the purpose. Proposal for more cameras has been sent.
“We will put up signs in various places to make the public aware that they are under video surveillance,” said Javalgi. “The move is not to scare people, not to infringe in their privacy but to enhance and tighten the security of public,” he said.
Gopal Lama the secretary of tourism department of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) said, “Darjeeling has always been safe for the tourists and the CCTV cameras will act an additional deterrence.”
This is the first time in West Bengal that the entire town visited by tourists is fitted with CCTV cameras.
The installation of CCTV cameras at 40 points in and around Darjeeling town comes just before the hill station goes to municipal polls in mid May. April and May is considered the peak tourist season in these hills.
The video surveillance in Darjeeling started from Friday while CCTVs have also been installed in some places of Mirik, Kalimpong and Kurseong and in Kharibari, Naxalbari and Phansidewa in the plains, that are under that are under the jurisdiction of Darjeeling Police.
The cameras will be able to record for at least 15 days at a stretch.
All approach roads to Darjeeling town from Ghoom and Singamari have also been kept under video surveillance to keep a tab of vehicles entering Darjeeling town.