Railway police refuse ACs in CCTV monitor room, saying they*ll put them to sleep
In a bid to tighten security, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) plans to install bullet-proof bunkers and air-conditioned control rooms for CCTV monitoring.
However, some personnel feel the comfort will make them sleepy when, in fact, they need to stay alert to monitor the cameras.
Passenger associations have complained about unattended CCTV monitoring in the past. Madhu Kotian, president of the Mumbai Pravasi Sangathana, said, "If RPF gets such facilities, I am sure they will not work at all. They will use the AC room as a place to gossip."
The Central Railway initially plans to install six control rooms at the cost of Rs 10-15 lakh per room. They will also spend Rs 1 lakh for each bullet-proof bunker they put in place.
Kotian raised an objection about the usage of funds. "Instead of wasting money on making new control rooms, they should provide basic amenities to passengers. Replace existing CCTV cameras with an upgraded version. As of now CCTV cabins mostly stay empty," he said.
Out of the 38 cameras at CST station, only nine can pan, tilt and zoom. Hardly any can alert the security personnel of unattended baggage.
PC Sinha, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner for Central Railway, however, supported their decision. "Our men will work more efficiently in a good ambience. They will be able to concentrate more."
The control rooms will be installed at CST, Dadar, Kurla and Thane, among other stations, as part of the Integrated Security Plan set in place by the railway ministry to provide foolproof security to vulnerable stations after the 26/11 attacks. The Western Railway will set up nine AC control rooms at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar and Bandra. WR spokesperson Sharat Chandrayan said, "Nothing is confirmed yet."
What security experts say
"The railways need intelligent software supported CCTVs, which can alert the control room about suspicious baggages lying unattended anywhere on the station by sending a beep. The railways are still a soft terror target," said Pramoud Rao, National President of Fire and Security and Managing Director of Zicom Securities. "Monitoring CCTV 24X7 is a tough task. Changing shift timings is also of no use. Different locations are visible on a single monitor, and concentrating on each footage is difficult for a single person," said a senior RPF official. There are 75 RPF cops in the CR. Around 50 cops in the WR have been assigned to screen the CCTV cameras.