The Kochi City Police have launched a three-month-long campaign, Operation Nireekshanam, to increase the number of CCTV cameras within the city limits to 2 lakhs besides introducing a grading system for resident’s associations based on security management.
The move assumes added significance in the wake of the gruesome murder in which the dead body of a youngster was found wrapped in a bedsheet and shoved into the duct of a 16th floor apartment in Edachira near Kakkanad. Police had observed that there was a lack of accountability on the part of the apartment complex concerned and communication gap with the police in alerting about the unusual activities and movement of strangers.
C.H. Nagaraju, District Police Chief (Kochi City) said that a decision to strengthen the CCTV network was taken at two district-level meetings of resident’s associations held last month based on which Station House Officers have been asked to approach the residents’ associations and apartment complexes within their jurisdiction.
The idea is to have a comprehensive network of CCTV cameras encompassing all private networks, merchants’ associations and residents’ associations. “We want all residents’ associations to put up adequate number of CCTV cameras with sufficient storage capacity, expand the number of cameras if needed, and reorient the camera angles where they are not properly oriented. Police will also help to identify strategic locations to mount cameras," said Mr. Nagaraju.
He observed that while CCTV cameras were rather cheap, many residents’ associations shied away by either citing privacy or financial constraints.
Grading system for residents’ associations
Steps are also being taken to grade residents’ associations into five categories from A+ to D with the former being the ones with the best security management and the latter being the worst. The best rated residents’ associations will be the ones that hold regular security assessment meetings, take responsibility for the happenings, ensure proper agreements between the tenants and the owners, maintain proposer CCTV management system and don’t let outside vehicles to park within the apartment premises overnight, said Mr. Nagaraju.
The ‘D’ rated apartments will be the ones absolutely irresponsible with no clue about the happenings within their premises. “We plan to invoke abetment sections if something goes wrong in such apartments,” said Mr. Nagaraju.
Addressing lack of accountability
V.S. Somanathan, the general secretary of All Kerala Flat Owners Association, observed that the majority of the apartment associations were corrupt and hence their directions often go unheeded. There is no standard method in the maintenance of entry registers except in apartment complexes run by competent associations. Often makeshift and pliable security guards with little command over language are employed for negligible wages, thus reducing the maintenance of registers to a sham.
“There is no point in issuing directives since they are already in place. What is needed is a circular by a law enforcement agency like police making it clear that associations at fault would be pulled up," said Mr. Somanathan.