NMMC cites fund crunch for CCTV project delay

While Cidco has launched its ambitious CCTV project in Navi Mumbai, NMMC has lagged despite being the first in the state to install the 262 cameras in 2012. The civic body cited funds crunch for the delay in putting up 451 extra cameras. It has asked the police department to cut down the number of CCTVs. While preparing the revised list, the police department focused on areas notorious for chain snatching incidents. It kept in mind security of senior citizens and protection of mangroves in Airoli, especially Rabale, where destruction of the green cover has been rampant.

Sources said in the new list the number of cameras could be cut down to 50 or 51.

The delay in putting up the cameras compromises the security of citizens and defeats the initiative, said residents. NMMC was the first in the state to execute the project.
The civic body has allocated just Rs 3 crore in the current fiscal for the maintenance and other expenses of the project, sources said. But, there is a provision for revising the budget. The proposal for installing CCTVs was first made in February 2014. Many of the previous police commissioners had written to the civic body about the need to install the cameras soon. However, there is more than what meets the eye as the civic body has had a long tussle with the police department for the last two years, said observers. The issue had initially got stuck over the payment of electricity bills for the cameras and the monthly payment for the leased line.

The issue of the electricity bill has been sorted out and it was paid by the police department. The department has written to the Director General’s office regarding the payment of the lease line’s rent. It cited that the NMMC’s agreement provided for paying an annual lease rent of Rs 1.72 crore for five years. The issue is pending with the government.

The CCTV project row also took a political twist when the state government provided funds to the Mumbai and Pune police for installing the cameras. This led the NMMC to cry foul. Former Civic Commissioner, D T Waghmare, had included the CCTV expenditure (Rs 250 crore) in the smart city project but the fate of the smart city plan itself continues to hang in the balance.