mid-day editorial: Protect the cameras that guard us

In a case of better late than never, Mumbai witnessed the inauguration of Phase-I of the pan-Mumbai CCTV camera surveillance network, wherein 1,000 cameras went operational across half of South Mumbai yesterday.

A report in this paper quotes Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis crediting the BJP-led state government for completing the project. Fadnavis fluffed his party’s feathers and said it was a project that was pending for the last seven years but the present government completed in less than a year.

While that is the expected political speak, we must introspect as to why the CCTV cover should have taken seven years post the 26/11 terror attacks, which have, unfortunately, become a blueprint for other terror attacks.

The government should have been more proactive on this front. Entire swathes of the city should have had CCTV coverage by now, and it is disappointing that Phase-I has just begun.

It is also important that the quality of the cameras be maintained. So often, we hear of reports that stated that so and so place had a CCTV camera. Yet, even after looking at footage, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly went wrong, because the footage is of shoddy quality.

As a Mumbai police official had pointed out, inauguration is just the first step; everything from then on depends on maintenance.

Several cameras in the city are lying defunct and are in need of upkeep. As crime and terror get more and more sophisticated, it is now no longer about catching up with terrorists — who are constantly evolving new methods — but about being one step ahead of them.

At a time when nations are actually looking at robots as an adjunct to law enforcement to fight terror, we are still struggling with CCTV surveillance. Once this is done, let us at least see that the cameras — and their upkeep — are of the highest order.

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