Be prepared for even more chaotic traffic, especially at busy intersections across the city, over the next 24 months. Barely six months after they finished a mammoth project of installing 698 Vehicle Detection Cameras next to hundreds of traffic signals to help cops manage traffic better, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now busy pulling down 577 of these cameras from the BEST-owned electricity poles they were attached to! The cameras will be reinstalled on new electricity poles, and as BEST sets them up over the next 24 months, costing the exchequer Rs 4 crore.
The city’s traffic police department uses these cameras to increase or decrease the signal time at busy crossings depending on traffic at the junction at any given time. Ever since this system was set in place in October, traffic management had become easier for the cops and the flow of traffic, markedly smoother for commuters.
Despite SMDs best efforts, additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta could not be reached for comment. But an official of the road department said, “The BMC has proposed to allot the work of replacing cameras to a private firm at the cost of Rs 4 crore. The duration of the contract is 24 months and will include the monsoon months.”
When asked whether the safety and security of citizens were being put at risk by removing these cameras (each camera, once pulled down, would take an average of two to three days to reinstall), Mahesh Thakur, an executive engineer with the BMC, said, “These cameras are not for the security of the city and its people. They are used just to monitor and control traffic.”
However, when contacted, BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said better coordination between the two agencies would have saved a lot of money and unnecessary wastage of time and manpower. “I don’t think there was a need to spend Rs 4 crore for the ATC project which has just been completed anyway. This would not have been the case if there was better co-ordination between BEST and BMC,” Ganacharya said.
Second best poles
But why is the BEST removing the poles? BEST spokesperson A Tamboli offered an explanation when he said, “These streetlight poles are removed only if they are rusted or needto be replaced. All these poles are not in the best condition and need to be replaced as soon as possible.”
When SMD got in touch with Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic), Brijesh Singh, he said, “I will have to check the proposal made by the BMC before commenting.”