Bangalore, with one of the highest crime rates in the country, has seen the police force, for the last five years, struggle to put in place an efficient surveillance system.
Now, with an allocation of Rs. 150 crore in this year’s State budget for the Safe City Project of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, policing efforts using technology are set to get a boost. Installing a network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras is a significant part of the project.
In the meantime, the city police are keeping tabs on the city with about 100 cameras.
This is in addition to 375 cameras installed by the traffic police at intersections.
According to the police, this is not enough for public places. Several projects to increase the number of CCTV cameras here have been non-starters.
In 2009, the government provided Rs. 350 crore to get more CCTV cameras, but the project has been on hold after a controversy broke out in the purchase of these gadgets.
The Home Department had directed the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation (KSPHC) to take the initiative. KSPHC called for tenders and a supplier was selected, but a competitor who lost out alleged irregularities in the process and moved the High Court. The court stayed the process. After the petitioner withdrew the petition, KSPHC cancelled the tender.
Thanks to the Assembly elections a few months ago, the police got a few cameras, a senior officer said.
The city police are now also encouraging commercial establishments, malls, schools and colleges city to install CCTV cameras.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Kamal Panth claimed CCTV camera surveillance could help solve crimes. They also play a key role in preventing crime as miscreants know they are being watched, he added.
City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H. Auradkar said they were doing a feasibility study. “If everything goes as per plan, we will have CCTV surveillance in place, but it will take another one-and-half years to implement,” he said.
According to sources, around Rs. 50 crore will be required for installing the cameras in each of the seven police divisions, along with a monitoring centre. The project could cost up to Rs. 350 crore, including service for five years.