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State relaxes conditions to get more bids for CCTV network

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The state government’s ambitious plan to cover the city in a web of surveillance cameras has had tenders called off three times, as there has been no consensus over which technology to use in the system

The State government has relaxed terms and conditions for its ambitious CCTV surveillance project to attract more bidders, especially multinationals who had ignored the tender process three times in the past. The fourth tender is expected to be invited soon.

Also read: Mumbai's Rs 1,200-cr CCTV camera project stuck in technology war

A sub-committee headed by Commissioner Rakesh Maria, in its recommendations, said a optical fibre network would provide better quality of images captured on CCTV cameras. File pic
A sub-committee headed by Commissioner Rakesh Maria, in its recommendations, said a optical fibre network would provide better quality of images captured on CCTV cameras. File pic

In a meeting on Thursday, the state’s 11-member, high-power committee on the project decided to relax financial conditions such as the necessity of maintaining a fund flow to vendors by giving a 10 per cent upfront payment of the total project cost, and rest of the amount staggered over shorter terms.

mid-day’s May 23 report on the tussle over CCTV technology
mid-day’s May 23 report on the tussle over CCTV technology

By relaxing the conditions, committee members hope that not only will the cost of the project reduce, but it will also provide some relief to cash-starved companies hit by a global financial crunch.

“This is likely to attract more multinational bidders and bring down the cost of the project, as firms will benefit from this relief,” said a senior member of the committee. Tenders have been called off thrice between 2011 and 2013.

Police recommendations
This paper had reported on May 23 how the Rs 1,200-crore project had been stuck in limbo over technology wars: while the police wanted an optical fibre network laid by PSUs, bidders were pushing for a 3G wireless network for the entire system.

The project has been delayed ever since the panel probing the 26/11 attacks recommended installing 6,000 cameras across the city. Sources said a three-member sub-committee headed by the Commissioner Of Police (Mumbai) presented its decision on 13-moot points raised by the high-power committee on technical specifications, liabilities and eligibility clauses and whether to allow a consortium or not for the bidding process.

Sources revealed the sub-committee has stressed on the need to undertake 80 per cent of the project by laying cables instead of wireless technology, allowing 5 per cent of the live cameras to remain dysfunctional at any given time to give relief to vendors, and allowing consortiums to take part in the bidding process with certain conditions.

The sub-committee stressed on an underground cable network, as it gives better resolution and clarity. Sources in the committee said members pointed out how poor the quality of images in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar on August 20, 2013, had botched up the probe.

The Maharashtra police had released CCTV footage of the two alleged assailants on bike, but the video was of poor quality. “The argument was that the CCTV web laid through a cable network would give more clarity and resolution. There is also a fear that wireless network could also be hijacked, which would not be the case in a PSU-installed optical fibre network,” said a senior cop who is a member of the sub-committee.

Rs 1,200 crore
Estimate cost of the project to install CCTV surveillance systems across the city

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