Unpaid BSNL bill crashes CCTV network

Aug 29, 2012, 08:45 IST | Vivek Sabnis

The pending connectivity bill adding up to around Rs 41 lakh has left a sensitive part of the city totally vulnerable, as the CCTV surveillance arrangement has flopped miserably while the police and the PMC pass the buck over paying Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

Close on the heels of the recent low-intensity serial bomb blasts in the city and with merely 20 days to go for the 12-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival, MiD DAY did a reality check in the area around Shrimant Dagadusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandal Trust and discovered that the 14-CCTV surveillance cameras covering the area are not functioning. 

Disconnected: A non-functional CCTV cam near Lal Mahal Palace at Shivaji Road

It can be recalled that Intelligence Bureau reports indicated that the 2.5 km area surrounding the place of worship was a soft target for a possible terror threat during the Ganesh festival last year.

Following the inputs, the trust and PMC had installed 14 CCTV cameras as a security measure. In December last year, the ATS arrested Qateel Siddiqui for alleged involvement in a failed bid to plant a bomb in the temple premises on February 13, 2010.

The control room at Vishrambaug police station wears a disused look as the equipment has been powered down  Pics/Krunal Gosavi

Siddiqui, who was transferred to Yerawada jail, was killed in June this year. Despite the events that have transpired, no provision has been made to share the burden of covering the recurrent connectivity bills and as a result, the CCTV cameras at this sensitive area continue to be non-functional.

While the 14 CCTV cameras installed at 10 prominent locations around the Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandal Trust serve no purpose at the moment, similarly the control room with a massive monitor mounted on the wall and other related equipment has been powered down as well.

Bharat Junnarkar, president of Junnarkar Technology Pvt Ltd, who installed the cameras and recording equipment at the control room said, “I received only Rs 10 lakh from the trust. The remaining amount of Rs 10 lakh is yet to be paid from the mayor’s fund. There should be some proper system of payment from the government department.”

When questioned, Mayor Vaishali Bankar refused to comment on the issue and indicated that the PMC has already agreed to pay for their share by providing the CCTV network for the entire city.

Earlier the mayor and other elected representatives had made it clear that they would not pay for the maintenance or bear any other charges for the CCTV camera network. Makarand Ranade, DCP (Zone I), who is in charge of the 14-CCTV camera network system, confirmed that the cameras were not functional due to no connectivity. To substantiate his claim, he produced a letter from BSNL and calculated dues totalling Rs 40, 86,533 as annual connectivity charges.

“BSNL is charging exorbitant rates despite the fact that the police is doing this exercise for the safety and security of the city’s residents. BSNL should subsidies rates for a good social cause,” Ranade said.

He added that his seniors have been communicating with the state home department and the PMC about the issue and over how consideration was not given to these recurring costs at the time of planning.

BSNL says
A senior BSNL officer said on condition anonymity, “We have already subsidised the connectivity rates for the Pune police, which are otherwise 5.50 lakh for 2 MBPS speed. BSNL had charged an annual cost of only Rs 1.75 lakh for each camera with the 2 MBPS capacity. Connectivity charges for control rooms are also drastically reduced.”

The source further stated that BSNL cannot charge less that the current rate though it sounds expensive to the city police. “Installation of CCTV cameras and other equipment with 34 control rooms costs Rs 30 crore, but that is a one-time cost. Connectivity is a recurring cost and users have to pay,” the source said.  

Ranade’s maths (approximate)
Costing of BSNL connectivity charges for
14-CCTV cameras network: Rs 40,86,533
Break up: Rs 1,75,000 per CCTV camera with 2 MBPS capacity
Rs 24.57,000 for 14 CCTV cameras
Rs 11.80,000 for 20 MBPS capacity control room
Rs 4,49,533 as 12.36% VAT charged by BSNL
Total cost Rs 40,86,533
Rs 3,40,544 per camera connectivity charges from BSNL
On that basis—BSNL connectivity cost for a
1,000-CCTV camera network for city: Rs 17,50 crore
Rs 4,01crore for 34 control rooms on 20 MBPS capacity
Total estimated cost for a year: Rs 21.51 crore  

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