Though local cops claim they were conducted by ‘mischief-mongers’ and not terrorists, the Pune serial blasts have thrown the spotlight back on the need for tighter vigilance particularly in Mumbai, which has been targeted by militants more than once with gruesome results.
But despite the constant threat, the state government has not been able to finalise the establishment of a CCTV network in the city, and it appears the wait is going to get longer. According to sources, the authorities have no option but to go for a re-tendering process towards installation of more than 6,000 CCTV cameras in various parts of Mumbai.
Authorities say that the lowest bidder — a consortium comprising Allied Digital Services, IBM, Cisco and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) — had quoted a whopping price of Rs 1,000 crore and also some technical problems cropped up.
Refusing to elaborate much, a senior Democratic Front functionary said the state still finds it odd that reputed firms sponsored by Tatas and other well-known companies opted out of the process that saw the RIL-backed conglomerate set to win the bid.
The project includes installation of CCTV cameras, monitoring through control rooms and sharing crucial footage with security agencies. The state has earmarked Rs 500 crore for the venture after a series of meetings on the issue. A high-power committee headed by the chief secretary has gone through the process of finalising the course of action, bids, technical specifications and presentation along with experts from IIT, representatives of BEST, BMC and and state IT department.
Eyes in the sky
One of the pertinent points still to be sorted out is who will monitor and share the footage with state authorities, said an official, adding that the process should be handled by the police or state government employees who are governed by service rules with responsibilities.
When probed, minister of state for home Satej aka Bunty Patil confirmed that the government may go for re-tendering. But he refused to elaborate further.
The state had shortlisted seven bidders out of the original ten for the project and two consortia qualified in the final round in May this year. The assignment assumes significance as it offers round-the-clock monitoring of movements in Mumbai. The state has tapped malls and commercial establishments that have their own security network. A high-end shopping mall in south central Mumbai has agreed to share footage gathered through 40-odd CCTV cameras installed, said sources.
However, the government has not been able to transmit momentum to the process due to a number of procedures involved while finalising bids and approving the proposal. When asked whether the re-tendering will further delay the process, a DF functionary said things would be streamlined in a month.
The state government’s nod for the project came in October last year. Before that, home minister RR Patil, his deputy Satej Patil, and a team of senior officials from the state home department and police visited London to grasp the concept of the CCTV network there.