Non-functional CCTV cameras put Chandigarh’s safety at stake
Replying to a query under the RTI Act , police admitted that between August and September, none of the cameras were working at Badheri, except one that was operational on only one day.punjab Updated: Dec 31, 2017 11:56 IST
Chandigarh While the UT administration is planning to install 600 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras across the city, the existing ones at the entry points remain non-functional most of the times.
There are six cameras installed at each of the eight entry points of the city.
Replying to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act , the police department admitted that between August and September this year, none of the cameras were working at Badheri, except one that was operational on only one day — September 1.
The situation is as bad at the Sarangpur barrier. Also, on the Sector 45/46 stretch, on an average five cameras were not working in September and October, up from three in August.
At the Zirakpur barrier, through which maximum traffic enters and exits the city, on an average one camera was non-functional in August, but the number shot up to three in September and October.
At the Mohali barrier, too, the situation went from bad to worse. The number of non-functional cameras went up from one to two and then three in these months.
However, at some entry points the situation did improve. For example, on entering from Mullanpur side at Togah, the commuters were under the watchful eyes of at least five cameras in September and October, up from two in August. Similarly, at the Mataur barrier, throughout the three-month period, only one camera was not working, except on one day in September, when none was functional.
Safe exit to criminals
Non-functional cameras provide a safe exit route to criminals after striking in the city. They have also hit the probe into high-profile cases.
In August this year, the issue had come to the fore when Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party president’s son Vikas Barala and his friend Ashish Kumar had stalked and tried to kidnap Varnika Kundu, a city-based disc jockey. The accused had followed her on Madhya Marg from Sector 8 to Housing Board light point, but none of the CCTV cameras installed on this important stretch could capture the crime. Reason: They were not functioning that night.
“Chandigarh Police have failed to get CCTV cameras repaired,” said RK Garg, the city-based RTI activist who had sought the information. “All the cops do is inform the vendor, but no effort is made to fix the responsibility.”
Garg said the cameras should be regularly monitored, and whenever found not working, should be repaired on priority.
Pointing to the figures in the RTI reply, Garg said the number of instances when the cameras have remained non-functional is increasing every month, “which indicates that no one is bothered to get them repaired”.
“CCTV cameras installed on the Chandigarh-Mohali border are not working. I have raised the issue a number of times, but to no avail,” said councillor Satish Kumar Kainth, who represents some southern sectors, including Sector 53.
“We have got the CCTV cameras checked and found that some have not been working,” said UT senior superintendent of police Nilambari Vijay Jagdale. “We are in the process of getting them repaired.”
Situation as bad in police stations
The RTI reply also brought to the fore that cameras installed in police stations to ensure transparency are also not functioning to full capacity.
This is despite the fact that CCTV cameras installed in police stations are monitored through a screen installed in the station house officer’s room. Also, what defeats the purpose is the limited storage facility of the surveillance system.