The Indian railways will be claiming Rs 500 crore, half of the Nirbhaya fund, to install and maintain CCTV cameras at railway stations around the country. This comes after the government failed to utilise Rs 1,000 crore allotted to the Nirbhaya fund for women safety projects after the first two years of it being set up. Instead of not doing anything with the allocated money, the centre decided to use it for some other purpose.
500 crore from the fund, which was ideally supposed to be used to fight crimes against women and promote gender equality among other things, will instead be used to install cameras? Oddity aside, even the numbers don’t make any sense. We did the math, couldn’t find the logic though. One night vision CCTV camera is available for purchase online for Rs 4,000 (approx). If we take that as a standard price for a camera (not accounting for the heavy discount that one must be getting for bulk orders), the railways could get themselves 12,50,000 cameras. There are roughly about 8000 railway stations in the country, which brings us to 156 CCTV cameras per railway station in the country. But the railways don’t even plan to implement this nationwide! They only plan to equip 1,000 stations – which means 1250 cameras per station.
According to the chairman of the railway board, AK Mittal, the Railways will only be spending Rs 50 lakh to install these CCTVs in each of these 1000 stations. “Detection of crime and prompt investigation in these cases are crucial. We approached the Finance Ministry for monetary assistance and Rs 500 crore has been granted from the Nirbhaya Fund to install CCTV cameras at railway stations,” he said. A similar proposal was also made by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his Budget speech for the current financial year.
Even though the idea of installing CCTV cameras across railway stations is a novel one, and should help bring the crime rate down and catch the culprits a lot quicker, it has drawn criticism from women activists. They believe installing CCTVs will not solve the larger problem. The railway officials say the CCTV cameras vary from 200-300 per station but busy stations like the ones in Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow and Kanpur would require anywhere between 300 to 350 cameras. The New Delhi Railway Station currently has only 150 CCTV cameras.
Since the creation of the fund, the money allotted to empower women and ensure their safety has been lying untouched. It’s not like the crime rates have gone down either, so this move by the government tends to give out an impression that it’s the will, not the resources that we need to keep our citizens safe. How else would you explain Rs 3,000 crore (since 2013) lying idle?