Posted On Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 08:51:24 AM
Pune was the first Indian city to put Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera surveillance on its traffic — a claim to fame that has now fallen flat. Left unmanned, the system was of no use in tracking the rampage that unfolded at Swargate this January, when a bus driver Santosh Mane, went berserk killing nine people, injuring 30 others and leaving 40 vehicles mangled.
And now these same cameras have gone completely blind, with the private company providing connectivity for the system deactivating all links, citing non-payment of dues.
|Pics: Mahendra Kolhe
The January carnage galvanised the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to beef up the number of CCTV cameras to 200, at 70 strategic junctions. But Tulip Telecom Ltd, the company maintaining the network, lost its patience and pulled the plug after waiting to be paid for three years.
“The company violated the terms and conditions stipulated in its contract agreement with PMC,” said Srinivas Bonala, PMC’s additional city engineer. He added that Tulip did not send the civic body monthly reports and links were down most of the time. “Links to cameras snapped anywhere between 30 and 80 per cent of the time, in a day,” he insisted.
|Arterial junctions like Balgandharva Chowk (top) and Alka Talkies Chowk (above) have CCTV cameras, but they no more function
On these grounds, Bonala has filed a detailed report against the company, stating that the payment cannot be released. He even sought its blacklisting after carrying out a hearing with company officials.
He conceded to Mirror that the company defended themselves saying equipment like routers and switches have been stolen. “We cannot bear responsibility for these thefts as it is not binding on the contract signed with them,” Bonala argued.
“What was Bonala doing all these years?” asked Tulip Telecom regional manager Indrajit Shinde. He too has a list — of accolades and awards the company has received for three consecutive years from the Union and State governments.
While the two slug it out, the cameras are on a blink and traffic offenders are getting away scot free. A week ago, Shivajinagar policemen had to return empty-handed from the Swargate control room after officials told them CCTV cameras were not functioning.
A woman had lodged a chain-snatching complaint saying suspects might have been recorded in the CCTV camera servers — but to no avail.
PMC is struggling with the conservation of data of 14 lakh traffic offenders between 2010 and 2011. It has proposed handing over the work to private third parties for analysing data and recovering penalties. The standing committee has already rejected the proposal twice and now PMC is persevering to table it again before the next general body meeting.
Swargate-way to disaster
CCTV cameras at Jedhe Chowk near Swargate are part of the PMC’s Critical Public Places Surveillance System (CPPSS). CCTV cameras here only had blurred and foggy images for investigators looking into the case of MSRTC driver Mane’s January rampage.
Swargate police say an average of four incidents of chain-snatching, theft or pickpocketing take place here every day.
Surveillance cameras would have helped them crack roughly 16 cases in the past one month as gang members would have been captured live on CCTV cameras.
What are we missing?
Traffic branch says:
An average of 3 lakh traffic-related violations take place every year at Juna Bazaar Chowk, Swargate, Pune University Chowk, Parnakuti Chowki Chowk, Alka Talkies Junction, Mahatma Gandhi Junction near Koregaon Park, etc
Crime branch says:
Suspects involved in crimes ranging across thefts, piracy, terrorism, sabotage, drugs and weapon-smuggling who take different routes within the city are going undetected due to a lack of surveillance.
► Links to the cameras snapped between 30 to 80 per cent of the time, in a day
- Srinivas Bonala, addnl city engineer, PMC claims the cctv system was always inefficient