Ganesh Visarjan to take place in shadow of terror?
It seems that even the blast near Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati temple in July has failed to shake the authorities out of their complacency on terror.
Groping in the dark: Cameras have still not been installed at major junctions along the visarjan route, including at Kunte Chowk (left) which is close to Faraskhana police station, where the July blast took place. Pics/Shashank Sane
Even after repeated assurances from the state government and the Pune police, Punekars thronging the busy Laxmi Road during Ganpati Visarjan on Monday will be vulnerable to terrorist acts, as the CCTV cameras that were supposed to be installed and functional at all major junctions on Laxmi Road are yet to be activated.
The company, Allied Digital Services Limited, which had got the contract to install CCTV cameras in the city, is struggling to finish work on the stretch. Installation at major junctions was underway even on Wednesday evening, raising questions about Pune police’s preparedness to monitor and secure the Ganesh Visarjan route from Belbaug Chowk to Tilak Chowk on Laxmi Road.
The state government’s ambitious project to install 1,285 CCTV cameras in the city was supposed to have been complete before April this year, but the deadline was missed several times.
The state had then given an assurance that the Ganesh Visarjan route would have CCTV coverage by August 15, but even this deadline was not met.
Now, with the visarjan barely three days away, the state government and the company are struggling to install cameras at major junctions like Tilak Chowk and Kunte Chowk, which is close to the Faraskhana police station, where the July bomb blast took place.
In a bid to make the city secure ahead of the Ganpati festival, CCTV cameras were supposed to get installed across 438 locations in the city by August 28, out of which only 87 have been installed so far, posing a serious threat to the safety
The government could not meet this deadline despite an assurance from Home Minister R R Patil himself, raising eyebrows among security experts, who are questioning the state government’s seriousness in executing the project, which was awarded to Allied Digital Services Limited at a cost of Rs 224 crore.
The experts said they are unsure when, if ever, the project would be completed.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration) Abdur Rehman told mid-day, “We want the work to be completed as soon as possible. As far as the delay is concerned, the high power commission of the state government will be taking action against the contractor.”
“Once the work is completed, we will be monitoring activities through the CCTV cameras and the contractor will have to provide maintenance for the next five years,” he added.
As of now, ADSL has erected poles at 87 locations and ordered 20 PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) and 50 basic cameras. BSNL has provided bandwidth at 111 locations and MSEDCL has given permissions for electricity connections at 47 locations.
Company officials had assured the police that the 132 locations under Zone 1 would have cameras by August 15. The cameras are supposed to the connected to the command and control centre at the Police Commissioner’s office in Camp.