Taking stock of a two-year-old safe city project
Yogesh Rajput | September 28, 2015
In March 2013, the Punjab government announced the launch of centre-sponsored ‘safe city’ project and chose Amritsar and Ludhiana as the beneficiaries. In the proposed project, CCTV cameras were to be installed at all major spots, which were vulnerable to criminal activities at an estimated cost of Rs 135 crore.
Enthused, the Punjab police started its research work and mapped the area for camera installation and network plan. The police, in collaboration with private consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), even made a ‘request for proposal’ (RFP) to invite competent bidders offering a comprehensive safe city solution comprising of command and control solution, CCTV surveillance system, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) solution, and mobile surveillance vehicle.
It has been more than two years but the project is yet to see light of the day. Considering the recent Gurdaspur terror attack on July 27 the project needs a serious re-consideration. Before the terrorists indiscriminately opened fire at Dinanagar police station, their image in army fatigues with rifles was captured by a CCTV camera. The wake-up call, on the need for CCTV surveillance, became all the more alarming after it was found that the camera was installed by a private shop owner and not by the state government.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA), in 2013, had launched its flagship ‘safe city’ project, asking major metro cities to focus on technological advancement in their police force. Even though police and public order are state subjects, the MHA decided to support the state governments by providing them financial assistance and equipping them with the latest technology.
As per the MHA, the aim of the project was to have “the best combination of man and machine, which can deliver the goods in the present context of the multifaceted challenges faced by the police”. In its set of guidelines for the cities, the ministry clearly stated that a wide network of CCTV surveillance was a key component of the project. Special attention was also given to command control centre, a network which would enable collection of feeds from CCTVs and have the capacity to store, analyse and disseminate them, when required. The centre was to also have GIS facility to know the exact location of a source from where data comes to the centre. Aerial surveillance, in the form of unmanned aerial vehicle, was also recommended by the MHA as part of the project. Punjab, however, failed miserably in implementing this project.
The Punjab police blame lack of funds to be the cause for stagnation of the project. Sources in the department say that the police was not even able to pay the fee of PwC consultants for their services for nearly six months, the issue which apparently has still not been resolved.
Though at the time of announcement, the Punjab government projected a cost of Rs 135 crore, upon making its own assessments the Punjab police had different figures. As per the estimate, the total cost for the project in Amritsar came to be nearly Rs 127 crore, while for Ludhiana it was about Rs 145 crore. Senior police officials say that the planning phase of the project was complete from their end, but there was no progress in the execution of the project due to lack of funds. Punjab, which desperately needs CCTV surveillance for the entire state, as of now, has not even been able to take off its pilot projects in Amritsar and Ludhiana.
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