The traffic police plan to import a high-end software to track and highlight number plates of stolen cars or vehicles involved in accidents that are captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at vital junctions.
There is just one hitch: They will not be able to use the software because more than 40% of the CCTV cameras are not operational.
“The cameras are our eyes on the road but we are handicapped by the fact that half of these cameras have become non-functional,” said Nandkumar Chougule, deputy commissioner of police (traffic).
After the 26/11 terror attacks on the city in 2008, the traffic police were sanctioned Rs 43 crore to set up CCTV cameras by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
In the first phase of the project, 105 CCTV cameras were installed at vital junctions in the city. But today more than 40 of these do not function.
Chougule accepted that there is a need to install more cameras but said this will be possible only after the existing ones are maintained on a regular basis.
“The company that has sold us the cameras should also maintain them regularly,” said Chougule. “Our officers are not technically qualified to repair them. There should be an annual contract so that we could get their optimum use.”
Security expert Vikas Verma agrees. “The CCTV cameras become the eyes of the police but only if they function properly. The company providing the CCTV cameras should be responsible for their maintenance.”
Pramod Rao, managing director of Zicom Electronic Security Systems Limited (India) Company, said they have been maintaining the cameras, but on most occasions the problem is not technical. “Often there is a network problem or a power failure.”
“For the second phase, we had submitted a proposal to the municipal corporation last year to install another 250 cameras. This year, we will get another Rs 2 crore for the project, which will be completed by January 2011,” said Chougule. “After the second phase will we use the new software.”
Mahesh Thakur, civic engineer and in-charge of the planning of the project, said: “We are working towards the second phase of the project.”
Why CCTV cameras are not functioning
CCTV cameras often get damaged during monsoon due to seepage. But the main reasons for non-functioning cameras, according to Chougule, is network unavailability and power failure.
Moreover, the underground wires of the cameras get cut or loosened when roads are dug.