Metro work is nuisance for Mumbai Police too; barricades obstruct CCTV field of view
Key CCTV field of view obstructed by Mumbai Metro fences impair street crime investigation; senior officers ask for realignment, shifting of cameras
Even as the state government approved Rs 980 crore this month, to secure all of Mumbai with a network of 5,000 CCTV cameras, the truth is that transport infrastructure development - Mumbai Metro work, in particular - is proving to be a major impediment in the successful implementation of the surveillance system.
The new menace, sources in the Mumbai Police said, are the wall-sized barricades installed in the middle of the roads for the construction of the metro, which are not only causing traffic snarls, but also obstructing the field of view (FOV) - or open observable area - of the public security cameras.
Requesting anonymity, cops in the city told mid-day that the barricades have hampered post-crime investigations, as the CCTV catchment areas are obstructed by the metro fences. "The cameras were installed in the city, when there was no metro construction work. They are expected to cover traffic from all sides. But due to the barricades, these cameras fail to capture what is happening on the opposite side of the road," a senior officer said, on condition of anonymity.
(Below) CCTV cameras installed at Mahatma Gandhi Road-Link Road junction in Kandivli West and Goregaon Sports Club near Link Road, Malad West, cannot capture vehicles moving on the north-bound road due to barricades on the other side of the road. Pics/Nimesh Dave, Graphic/Ravi Jadhav
No view from here
In order to check the veracity of the claims, mid-day visited major junctions in the city. There are multiple CCTVs installed at Mahatma Gandhi Road–Link Road junction in Kandivli West, but the cameras (installed on the south-bound road) cannot capture the vehicles plying on the north-bound road of Link Road due to the barricades.
"The road dividers were broken and the area was barricaded to conduct Metro work. While the work is complete, the barricades are still there, as the new dividers are yet to be installed by the agencies concerned. Once the dividers are ready, the barricades will be removed and the cameras' field of view will not be obstructed thereafter," said a senior police officer.
Similarly, near Goregaon Sports Club on Link Road, Malad West, the cameras installed on the south-bound road are unable to clearly capture vehicles moving on the north-bound road. At one spot, the branches of trees had blinded the CCTV's lens.
There are other locations in the western and northern suburbs, where surveillance lenses have been obstructed, but cops requested this reporter against disclosing details due to security reasons.
One of the major grouses of the investigating officials is that the cameras no longer serve the purpose they were installed for. "The camera footage provides us additional support in investigating street crimes. If the accused is moving in a vehicle, we are able to locate their trail, based on the CCTV footage. But due to the obstruction, our detection has been delayed," said an officer.
Giving an example, an officer said, "If someone is killed behind the barricade, the CCTV won't be able to capture the murder scene. We'd face a similar situation, were a fatal road accident to take place behind that barricade."
A senior cop told mid-day that one-and-a-half months ago, senior inspectors were asked if they need additional CCTV cameras or want to change the direction of the cameras installed in their respective jurisdictions. "An internal survey was conducted, after which a few cameras were realigned. But a lot of work still needs to be done," the officer added.
When mid-day reached
out to Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal, to ask him about the recent realignments, he said, "It is not specifically linked to ongoing Metro work. We realign the CCTV cameras if and when required for the safety and security of the city."
Larsen & Toubro, which has the contract to boost Mumbai's CCTV network in Mumbai, refused to comment on the issue. Sources at L&T, however, said that "several CCTV poles were either shifted or cameras were re-aligned' during major road-digging work for Metro". "Beside CCTVs, traffic signal poles too, were temporarily shifted during excavation of roads for Metro. If and when the police need to realign a camera or relocate a CCTV pole, we have followed their instructions to improve surveillance," the source added.
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