26/11 surveillance project: Flawed survey reduces cameras by 1,000 in the city

  • Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 05, 2016 12:37 IST

Mumbai: A flawed inspection by the police department over the number of poles required for cameras means that the city has to settle for about 1,000 fewer cameras.

The Rs949-crore CCTV surveillance project, recommended by the Pradhan Committee probing the 26/11 terror attack, was supposed to install 6, 020 cameras on 1,800 poles at 1,492 sites. Now, the bidder Larsen & Toubro has reduced the number of cameras to 5,000 to make up for the 400 extra poles. The confusion is the fallout of a shoddy survey by the police department which miscalculated the number poles required for cameras.

During a meeting of the High Power Committee (HPC) headed by the chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, the government also learnt about the possible delay in honouring the October 2016 deadline to complete the project. Delay in getting permissions from various agencies, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and fire brigade and forest department, may further frustrate the completion of the project. In addition, the HPC changed the mandate of L&T,  allowing it to go live with installed cameras, instead of region-wise Implementation.

L&T has installed 3,177 cameras across the city, of which 1,219 have gone live and are monitored by two control rooms. The project was allotted to L&T in February 2015.

The police department conducted the ‘shoddy’ inspection of sites three years ago, which ascertained the number of poles for installation.

“Joint surveys by the police, the bidder and government officials found the need for more poles. Since the cost of the project is fixed and the rise in poles was inevitable, the HPC has decided to reduce the number of cameras . To make up the rise of the poles to 2,200 from 1,800, we had to reduce cameras by about 1,000. The reduction will be of all types of cameras, including fixed box , PTZ and thermal cameras,” said an official from the home department .

“The home department later found that vital locations were not comprehensively covered for the installation. For instance, Mantralaya was identified for a single installation, ” the official said.

To make up the reduction in the cameras, the government and the police have identified 102 private installations, including hotels, schools, colleges, malls for the collaboration to share the feed when required. “We have contacted a few of them and the rest will be contacted. Many of them have agreed to let us monitor their feed,” said another official privy to the project.

He also added that the synchronization of private cameras with a government project is globally accepted practice and even in London 93% of the cameras in the CCTV surveillance network are privately owned.

In the first phase of the project, the live feed of cameras covering South and parts of Central Mumbai was started by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on November 30, 2015.

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