Little headway in Cantt CCTV project

Hyderabad: The Secunderabad Cantonment, being one of the biggest in the country, was among the first five selected for the Smart Cantonment initiative, part of the Centre’s Smart City project, with one of the components being installation of closed circuit television cameras across the Cantonment limits, monitored from a central Command and Control Centre.

However, almost three years later, a visit to the Command and Control Centre (CCC) suggests that the Cantonment is anything but smart. The CCC, launched amidst much fanfare, is now nothing more than a storeroom, the giant LED screens defunct, with officials in the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) telling us that out of the 2,000 CCTV cameras that were planned, less than 500 were installed.The ‘smart’ initiative lost steam, with the objective of enhancing security in the Cantonment limits going for a toss as a fund crunch and staff shortage hitting the project hard.

“We are waiting for release of funds from the Ministry of Defence and once the funds are sanctioned, works will be taken up to install the remaining CCTV cameras and commence the operations,” SCB officials said.All this is when the SCB was actually among the first few civic bodies in the State to use CCTVs not just for surveillance but for betterment of civic amenities too. When the project had got off to a start, the CCTV network was used to monitor the condition of roads, apart from nabbing those dumping garbage in public spaces and to levy penalties on them.

For the police too, the network was quite helpful since they could use the system for monitoring and regulating traffic in the Cantonment area.However, even as the State government and the City Police are progressing fast with their project of CCTV networks with the involvement of the community, through initiatives such as ‘Nenu Saitham’, the condition of the CCC stands out as a blotch on the SCB’s zeal to improve civic amenities.

The cameras were installed only in civilian areas, with the Army already having its own surveillance system in the military areas under the SCB. As for the Smart Cantonment initiative, provisions were to be made for wider roads, multi-level parking spaces, improvement in sanitation levels, better security systems and better healthcare, to mention a few. None of which, however, have seen much progress so far, with the CCTV project itself being a classic example.