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HT Explainer: Chandigarh’s CCTV surveillance and what needs to be done about it

The police are asking the residents to install cameras on their premises, commercial or residential.

punjab Updated: Aug 17, 2017 13:29 IST
Hillary Victor/Shailee Dogra
Hillary Victor/Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,CCTV surveillance,Chandigarh police
A traffic light point without a CCTV camera on the road separating Sectors 23 and 24.(Karun Sharma/HT)

Even as Chandigarh police boasts of having covered the entire city with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras but the ground reality is that these devices have proved of little or no help in cracking major crime cases that have taken place in the recent past.

Cases where CCTV helped
  • July 24: Police arrested two security guards – Gagandeep of Dhakoli and Mahesh alias Ajay of Baltana – and solved five thefts reported from the area. The footage from a CCTV camera helped crack the case.
  • April 14: Police had got clues about the Skoda bound thief Pawan Hooda, resident of Phase 11 in SAS Nagar. He was booked in five cases in Chandigarh.
  • July 13: Police had arrested Ajay Kumar alias Ajju (24), resident of Maloya, who snatched purses of five women in an hour. He was caught on CCTV committing the crime.
  • Aug 4, 2016: Police had arrested seven persons, including 4 juveniles, for murder of Vikas (18), resident of Bhaskar Colony, Sector 25, in broad daylight after he was dragged from his Activa in Sector-25 market.

In Varnika Kundu stalking and attempt to kidnap case the cameras at all major traffic intersection were found non functional since July 24. And now the rape of the 12-year-old on Independence Day brings forth that there are no CCTV cameras installed either in Children’s Traffic Park or the traffic intersections adjoining the park.

The police are asking the residents to install cameras on their premises, commercial or residential.

Chandigarh has CCTV cameras installed under two different projects, one is on the traffic intersections and the other is in the markets and residential places.

Sanjay Gupta, managing director, hawks eye CCTV company, said, “The technology that UT administration is using is completely outdated as there has been a consistent upgradation in high resolution IP cameras, and has reached to 20 mega pixel even in the smart phones. CCTV is much bigger gadget to accommodate high mega pixel chip on board. Presently, it is resulting in loss of dependable footage recording. UT administration should upgrade the technology rather than its maintenance.”

CCTV cameras installed, where in city?

As many as 93 CCTV cameras are installed by the administration and Chandigarh police on the traffic intersections of the city. Under the Nigehbaan project, a collaboration the police had with resident welfare associations and market bodies, nearly 14,000 CCTV cameras were installed in markets, residential areas and other sensitive traffic intersections across the city.

Details of the two projects

UT administration allotted the contract in 2008 to Mumbai-based company Schneider Electric India Private Limited, which has been allotted a contract for 10 years at a cost of Rs 4.44 crore. The Nigehbaan project was initiated by then inspector general of police (IGP) Tajender Pal Luthra in March 2016. Luthra is now director general of police (DGP). Luthra had taken a similar initiative in New Delhi where around 1.6 lakh CCTV cameras were installed through public participation. Under this project all station house officers (SHOs) were asked to identify sensitive points in their areas where these cameras were to be installed. Under this the cameras are installed by individuals in their residential as well as commercial establishment.

Cases where CCTV, DVR were damaged
  • July 7: Thieves targeted a liquor shop in Sector 41 and took away 13 bottles of liquor worth Rs 19,000, along Rs 24,000. Along with it, they also stole LED screen, CCTV camera and digital video recorder from the shop.
  • June 30: Thief struck at Sai Baba Mandir in Sector 29. He damaged seven CCTV cameras with a hammer. He also turned the direction of some cameras while painting others with black paint. The accused — Amarjit Singh — was later arrested.
  • June 26: Thieves stole Rs 40,000 along with garments from two shops in Sector 35. Here too they took the DVR from both the shops.
  • June 20: In a theft that lasts just three minutes, miscreants take Rs 25,000, two bottles of Black Dog and four of beer from a liquor shop in Dadumajra. They use a steel tumbler to damage the CCTV cameras.

How many are non functional?

Before Varinka’s case out of 93, only 50 CCTV cameras were functional, but now the administration claims that 92 are in working condition. As per police claims, under the Nighebaan project all the cameras are working

Are they monitored regularly?

The cameras on the traffic intersections are monitored from the central control room by the traffic wing. These cameras are primarily used to keep a tab on traffic violations. Those under the Nigehbaan are installed by the individuals and there is no provision of monitoring these. At present the police retrieves the footage of these cameras only after a crime is reported. These cameras are not used for prevention of crime as there is no mechanism to monitor these.

Cost of installing, maintenance

On the cameras installed on traffic intersections the administration is spending ₹19 lakh per year.

How will smart city project impact?

UT is planning to install 600 cameras with latest technology at various important points in the city. Under Nigehbaan project the police have identified more vulnerable spots in the area. Already the Chandigarh Police is in process of installing CCTV cameras in colonies and the slums. As part of the project about 100 more cameras would be installed at the New Indira Colony at a cost of ₹10 lakh. The project is being sponsored under the MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme). These cameras will be installed on houses, as well as poles.

When will these be initiated?

The project of installing 600 cameras under smart city project will take at least six months while under Nigehbaan project police are holding meeting with residents.

Outdated technology, only 7-day memory

Internet Protocol (IP) with resolution of 2:1, which is now outdated. Technical specification needed: Memory, night vision. The cameras installed cannot work in dark due to its resolution and moreover 25% of street lights in city are non-functional. The memory of the cameras on traffic lights have only 7 days memory. Most of the cameras installed under Nigehbaan by the individuals do not have night vision and people on whose houses these cameras are installed not willingly share the CCTV footage.

What is the future plan?

A senior officer of UT administration said they plan to come up with smart CCTV cameras, which would not only help in keeping vigil, but also help in nabbing criminals and traffic violators. “We are hopeful of doing it soon,” he said. Under the project, hi-tech CCTV cameras with night vision capacity and ability to capture vehicle number plates are to be installed in the city. The cameras will also be equipped with technology such as face recognition and face matching.

2 years and intelligent traffic solution yet to see light

The UT administration in 2015 conceptualised the project of ‘intelligent traffic solutions’ for the city. Under this, the city was to be covered with more than 600 CCTV cameras. But even after two years nothing has been done on the project.

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 13:25 IST