The Western Railway (WR) will soon have almost 3,500 eyes on its commuters in the form of high definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras both on coaches and platforms of railway stations. The Rs 200-crore project is sanctioned under the Rail Budget 2017-18 and money has been arranged from the existing budgetary allocation for the railways by adjusting from the overheads and the Nirbhaya Fund.
The cameras are expected to be placed by June 2018 and their installation will be personally monitored by Union railway minister Piyush Goyal.
The cameras will be installed on all the 32 WR stations and around 308 coaches on 25 local trains. A total of 100 rakes (trains) run on the WR. The decision to install the CCTVs comes after the September 29 Elphinstone Road stampede, in which 23 people died. The CCTV camera installed at the Elphinstone Road station captured very little footage that could help divulge details of the tragedy.
The move to install CCTV at the 32 stations has already undergone three revisions this year, while the cameras in coaches were limited to women compartments. But it has now been revised to not just to increase the number of cameras installed but also to make them high definition after the September 29 stampede. In fact, the concerned file was cleared from WR’s Mumbai division in Mumbai Central, then by the headquarters located in New Delhi and then finally by the Railway Board, all in one day.
An official said, “A day after the stampede when the railway minister Piyush Goyal was reviewing the measures of how to make the system better, he said that whatever the cost, it would be approved by the ministry.”
The Rs 200 crore fund has been adjusted by the railways from its budget that was merged with the Union budget on February 1 this year. The railways will also be taking a chunk, albeit a small one, from the Nirbhaya Fund that was set up in 2013 after the Delhi gang rape case.
Funds have been fast-tracked to install more CCTVs after it was pointed out by officials that the elevated portion of the foot over-bridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station did not have any CCTV camera installed. As a result, there were some gaps in knowing the exact series of events that led to the stampede at Elphinstone.
On the other hand, there was also a general outlook among officials that the advantage of CCTV cameras in coaches should be extended to the general compartments for men and not just the women compartments. Another official said, “Now the mindset is that everyone should have security and not just one gender.”