It’s been nearly four years since the 26/11 terror attacks shook the city, but the quality of security at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is almost the same as it was before the attack. After the 48-hour ordeal in 2008 that left the city aghast, foolproof security systems were proposed to be installed at important railway stations, including CST, at a total cost of Rs 27 crore.
Once again, however, the CCTV cameras installed at CST failed to serve their intended purpose. Sangeeta, the four-year-old girl who was kidnapped from the same station last month, could have been traced earlier, but the clarity of the cameras was so bad that her captor could not be identified.
Sangeeta, who was kidnapped from CST on June 10, was traced to Haridwar in Uttarakhand from where she has been rescued. A man, now identified as Raju Kallu, abducted the girl while she was sleeping with her parents.
S M Deshmukh, senior inspector of police (GRP), said, “Due to the low quality of CCTV cameras, we could not figure out the accused’s face though we could see that he had taken the child from her parents who were sleeping at that time. It took us a few days to convert the video format for our system.”
Deshmukh added, “If the cameras were of good quality, we would have captured the accused earlier.”
A source in the railways and Railway Protection Force (RPF) said, security at big railway stations like CST, Dadar, Thane and Kurla, which should be of the highest standard, is severely lacking.
“The recent incident of Sangeeta proved the poor quality of CCTV footage again. The cameras installed are of bad quality and they cannot be zoomed in to see a face or suspicious luggage clearly,” he said.
At present, there are 102 CCTV cameras installed at CST including the main and suburban sections. However, according to a railway official, many cameras are not in working condition.
“Every day, about 30 to 40 cameras are sent for repair and if an incident happens at that particular place, there are no working cameras. Nearly 70 cameras are on hire, and the railways spend approximately Rs 1,500 on their maintenance every month, but the result is unsatisfactory,” said the official.
Interestingly, the number of CCTV cameras has been increased from 21 to 102 at CST after 26/11. Since then, issues regarding low picture quality and inability to zoom have been faced.
The railway had also sanctioned Rs 27 crore for security at major railway stations like CST, Kurla, Dadar and Thane under the integrated security system, but nothing has been done yet. Moreover, this is not the first time that railway authorities have felt the need for better quality cameras.
At the time of the 26/11 attack, 15 out of 21 cameras were non functional. The two cameras installed at CST in the main hall through which the terrorists entered, were non functional, and the RPF personnel did not see them entering with guns.