Hi-tech security for Bengal’s new seat of power

ON THE SPOT PHOTO I-CARDS FOR VISITORS

By bappaditya paul  
Gone are the days when armed with a visitor’s slip, people could go from floor to floor at the Bengal state secretariat! The Kolkata Police is putting in place an automated visitor’s management (VMS) system at Nabanna in Howrah ~ the new address of the state secretariat ~ wherein every single visitor will be issued an on-the-spot photo identity card that will restrict their entry only to the desired floor.   HRBC building in Howrah ~ Bengal's new seat of powerBefore a visitor is issued such a photo I-card using web cams attached to computers at the visitor’s desk, officials will record all relevant details of the person on the VMS such as name, address, occupation, the purpose of visit and the time of entry. A visitor will be required to hang the I-card from the visitor’s neck and will be allowed to climb up the 14-storyed building only using the lifts that will be manned.

Such automated visitor entry system is common in private corporate offices but is surely something new vis-à-vis a government establishment in Bengal.    The state government has hired a private agency ~ NIS Management Pvt Ltd ~ on a one-year contract for the upkeep of Nabanna  and management of the various facilities over there. The personnel deployed by NIS will assist Kolkata Police in manning the VMS.  HRBC Building front view“Apart from this, the NIS workforce will carry out all the cleaning, sweeping and mopping work, operate the lifts, water-pumps and generators and man the parking lot, stores and the main reception. In short, they will be the overall caretaker for Nabanna and all the room keys will remain with them. NIS is deploying around 120 personnel for the job,” said a senior official in the state PWD. At Writers’ Buildings, all these tasks used to be performed by the PWD staff.
To keep a tab on the NIS personnel who are mostly contractual staff, the Kolkata Police, which is in-charge of the security of Nabanna, will issue non-transferable photo identity card to them.A spiral view of the office floors at HRBC Building“Like the visitor’s photo I-card, the ones issued to the NIS men will also be floor or zone specific and they will be required to deposit the I-card with us before leaving for home everyday,” said Mr Ashoke Biswas, deputy commissioner (reserve force), who is looking after Nabanna security.

Kolkata Police is deploying around 265 police personnel lead by two assistant commissioners of police and four police inspectors. There will be 150 uniformed personnel from the Howrah City Police looking after the security outside the Nabanna building.  A view of Howrah skyline from HRBC BuildingThe traffic for Nabanna will be looked after by the Vidyasagar Setu Traffic Guard and two traffic inspectors, 12 sergeants, 50 constables and a number of home guards.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 5 October 2013.)

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