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Delhi govt clears CCTV project but confusion over Baijal-appointed panel may cause delay

The project envisages the installation of 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras across the city at a cost of Rs 571 crore.

delhi Updated: Aug 11, 2018 01:30 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Arvind Kejriwal,CCTV cameras,Anil Baijal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the Centre as well as lieutenant governor Anil Baijal over the alleged rise in crimes against women in the national capital.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

The Delhi government on Friday cleared a Rs 571-crore flagship project to install 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras across the city.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal made the announcement in the Delhi assembly on the concluding day of the monsoon session. The project was one of the key promises made by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the run-up to the 2015 assembly elections.

Kejriwal also took the opportunity to hit out at the Centre as well as lieutenant governor Anil Baijal over the alleged rise in crimes against women in the national capital. “The home ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office, the lieutenant governor and the police — all have failed to provide security to the people of Delhi. Criminals and anti-social elements will have some fear in them once the cameras are installed. This project will ensure a safer city for Delhiites, especially women and children,” he said.

The Centre controls the Delhi Police through the lieutenant governor.

This is the second time the Delhi cabinet has cleared the CCTV camera project. While an in-principle approval was first granted in October 2015, this happens to be an administrative nod that would allow the public works department – the nodal agency for the project – to sanction the expenditure for supplying, installing, testing and commissioning the cameras.

In his speech, Kejriwal blamed the lieutenant governor and bureaucrats for the three-year delay in executing the project. He said that although the Delhi government wanted to install the cameras at residential and commercial areas in coordination with residents, Baijal raised privacy issues to stall the project.

“With the help of certain officials, they moved the files in such a way that the installation of CCTV cameras was delayed by three years,” he alleged, asking BJP legislators to ensure that Baijal does not pose any further “hurdles” in implementing the project.

The lieutenant governor had formed a committee on May 8 to frame common guidelines for installation, operation and monitoring of all CCTV cameras in the city, including those put up by the police. The AAP government dubbed the panel as “illegal”, and accused Baijal of obstructing its “flagship project”.

According to Kejriwal, the panel recommended that the CCTV cameras be installed only after acquiring licences from the police. “The police are not able to give licences for guns properly and they are supposed to be entrusted with a task as menial as giving certificates for CCTV cameras? This meant money would have to be paid to get the licences, leading to more corruption,” Kejriwal told BJP legislators in the house.

Delay likely

However, “confusion” among the bureaucracy with regard to the Baijal-appointed committee is likely to delay the CCTV project despite its passage in the state assembly.

Officials said the process of awarding work may take six months as various formalities, including obtaining the work advisory board’s approval for the Rs 571-crore project, have to be completed.

“Friday’s approval was for launching the process of procuring 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras. But officials are still not clear whether the recommendations of the lieutenant governor’s panel need to be included. The lieutenant governor may or may not notify the rules suggested by the panel,” an official said.

Another official said public works department (PWD) secretary Manoj Parida, who heads the committee, has demanded that the project be kept in abeyance until the panel comes out with its report. “But PWD minister Satyendar Jain, on the other hand, dubbed the committee as illegal in a letter addressed to the lieutenant governor. He overruled the PWD secretary’s comment in the proposal,” he added.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 00:36 IST