As an ambitious government project to get over 12,000 CCTV cameras for Mumbai crawls through an atrophied bureaucracy, city police chief Param Bir Singh has managed to push private establishments, including housing societies, to install the digital eyes on their premises. In the past two months, these entities have added 50,000 CCTV cameras. Following the 26/11 terror attack, the government had drawn up a blueprint to improve surveillance in the city at a cost of about Rs 1,000 crore.
Under the first phase of the project, 5,300 cameras were installed by 2016. The government is now in the last leg of launching another 7,000 cameras. Towards the end of 2020, Singh issued an order saying it was mandatory for housing societies, malls, religious places, petrol pumps, banks, ATMs, shopping complexes, educational institutions and multiplexes to cover their outer area with CCTV cameras. He said the cameras will help the police detect and curb street crimes.
The police commissioner said it was mandatory for these private establishments to have the surveillance devices on their premises under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and non-compliance could invite action. However, officers said there was no need for them to punish anyone.
Driving home their point, police sources said they found that some of the housing societies near Mr. Mukesh Ambani’s home have not covered their outer area. Had there been CCTV cameras, they might have thrown some clue to the incident of explosives found in an abandoned SUV near the industrialist’s home.Local police stations are now trying to have access to the feeds in their respective areas.
“Mostly we will take the footage of private cameras post an incident, but at some specific locations, we will try to take the live feed covering the outer areas,” said an officer.
Mr. Mahendra Hemdev, a member of the Marine Drive Residents Association, welcomed the move. “CCTV cameras are proving extremely valuable in preventing and solving crimes. However, live feed from society cameras should be available to police. Many societies are reluctant to share their footage not realising the importance of public safety,” said Hemdev, who recently met Singh and Patil and pushed for more cameras in the city.