A high-level Delhi Police team which recently visited the city in Gujarat to study its CCTV system said that replicating a model which has only 104 cameras would hardly do for Delhi, a city where the number of CCTV cameras on its streets would soon be touching 9,000.
In Surat, a total of 104 CCTV cameras have been installed at 26 strategic locations across the city as part of a unique project which has been undertaken under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
"The project is commendable, but implementing a project of 104 CCTV cameras in a much larger city like Delhi... is difficult," said a senior Delhi Police official, adding that the national capital has a projection of 9,000 CCTV cameras, most of which have either already been installed or are in the process of being installed.
According to the official, the CCTV camera surveillance system in Surat was launched in January last year and is run by a trust consisting of eminent citizens and industrialists of the city.
Surat has a bustling textile industry along with manufacturing units of major companies like Larsen and Toubro, Reliance Petrochemicals, ONGC etc.
Those intending to join it have to give Rs 25 lakh as a one-time fee to become a member of the trust. This money is then utilised in the project's implementation and development. The ex-officio chairman of the trust is always the Commissioner of Surat Police.
Those who become members of the trust are in a win-win situation as they get a tax benefit and also a secure environment in the city where they have their say.
"Here the usual tender system which causes delays in project implementation is not followed. Instead, there is a committee drawn from amongst the trustees, who are already experts in their fields, and it chooses the best vendor of any technology needed for the project," the official said.
Unlike Delhi Police, which has to rely on MTNL lines with limited bandwidth for its CCTV network, the Surat surveillance system has its own dedicated line with unlimited bandwidth.
"It will help them cater to the demand whenever they expand the system. For the operation and maintenance of the system, a 'Traffic Brigade' has been constituted whose personnel work like traffic volunteers and get Rs 250 per day.
The money collected through traffic challan is used to pay them," the official added.
The command and control room of the system, however, is monitored by Surat Police. Buoyed by the success of the system, Gujarat government has asked other cities in the state to follow it.
The CCTV camera network in Delhi is fully funded by the government. Delhi Police has been roping in RWAs and market associations for installation of CCTV cameras, but a system on the lines of the Surat PPP model has not been attempted here.
"Even if we go ahead with it, finding interested parties and implementing it (the model) will still require several years in a city like Delhi, which is much larger and different than Surat," the official said.
Led by Special Commissioner of Police (Operations) Sundari Nanda, a Delhi Police team comprising DCP (Communication) Naved Mumtaz and Additional DCP (Communication) Satyawan Gautam had recently visited Surat to study the project and explore the scope of implementing it in the national capital.
A report on the findings of the team will be submitted by Delhi Police to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.