KOLKATA, HOWRAH AND RAJARHAT NEW TOWN TO COME UNDER CCTV SURVEILLANCE BY 2015
By bappaditya paul
West Bengal government has decided to bring practically the Kolkata and the two adjoining urban hubs of Howrah and Rajarhat New Town under CCTV surveillance so to improve the level of policing and curb crime. The ambitious plan will cost an estimated Rs 104 crore under the Safe City Project to be co-funded by the Union government.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which is overseeing the project, has asked the Bengal government to submit a detailed project report (DPR) by March next year and the target is to complete the CCTV cameras installation by March 2015.
According to state government sources, after the Delhi gang rape case, the MHA had in February this year envisaged the Safe City Project for six cities ~ Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata. The Centre approved the project as a sub-set of the Modernisation of State Police Forces Scheme with a 60:40 cost sharing formula between the Centre and the respective states; the Centre’s total contribution to be provided in two years (2013-14 and 2014-15) as Non-Plan allocation, is Rs 432.90 crore.
Last week, a director-level officer from MHA visited the Bengal state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah and held a meeting with state Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Home Secretary Basudev Banerjee, asking them to expedite the project.
“This is a very ambitious project that will see installation of thousands of CCTV cameras equipped with video analytics and facial scan mechanism at all important installations and roads, procuring of trauma care ambulances and putting in place a citizen policing mechanism. Since several of our important establishments are also located in the adjoining towns, it has been decided that entire Kolkata, Howrah and the Rajarhat New Town will be brought under the purview of the project,” said a senior official in the state Home Department.
“This will be very different from the existing CCTV monitoring mechanism of Kolkata Police wherein those manning the control room manually look for any suspicious movements. In the new facility, the video analytics will automatically track any vehicle moving at high speed or at unusually low speed, capture its number plate and send alert to the nearest police post. Also, if some individual enters an important building or area with say a backpack and after sometime leaves the place empty-hand, the video analytics will automatically alert the security personnel along with close-up photograph of the person,” he added.
Once commissioned, the new surveillance system will be integrated with the existing CCTV monitoring system put in place at the city airport, various railway stations, road intersections and buildings in Kolkata, Howrah and Rajarhat New Town. “Both Kolkata and the respective district police will man the new facility through multiple control rooms.”
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 26 November 2013.)