The ambitious closed circuit television (CCTV) camera project, launched by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in February, has come a cropper as most of the cameras are of poor quality and cannot legibly record vehicle number plates or recognize faces of people. An audit by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) said the faulty ‘city surveillance system’ has taken its toll on traffic management and crime control.
State-run Odisha State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation (OSPHWC) Limited installed at least 112 CCTV cameras at 28 locations at a cost of Rs 7.06 crore through a private agency. “In May 2015, the Commissioner of Police (CP) intimated OSPHWC that the cameras failed to record the number plates and faces of traffic offenders. The CP insisted installation of pan-tilt-zoom cameras,” the CAG report said. The audit report also found that miscreants stole some batteries from UPS boxes. “Altogether 116 batteries were stolen. A joint physical inspection with OSPHWC in May confirmed that batteries were stolen from four places. At one location, CCTV system was non-functional due to want of connectivity,” the audit report stated.
The CAG also came across another shocking aspect. “Though the project was inaugurated in February, the OSPHWC has not yet handed over the system to the Commissionerate of Police. Thus, police were deprived of the intended benefits of the CCTV cameras for effective crime control and traffic management,” the report said.
Sources in the Commissionerate of Police said the OSPHWC has started the process of handing over the system to the former for operation. “As of now, we cannot view CCTV footage from some locations on the monitors in our control room. The OSPHWC is busy completing the connectivity and installation of good quality cameras,” said a senior police officer.
In the second and third phases, the OSPHWC would install at least 400 more cameras at 68 other locations here. “The OSPHWC has assured us to hand over the surveillance system for the first phase soon,” the officer added.