Every move of yours will be watched from now on at Lalbagh as Horticultural authorities are now in the process of installing CCTV cameras in the 240-acre world famous gardens which houses the Glass House and hosts many a flower show annually.
This month, the Department of Horticulture came out with a pilot project where they installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the three main gates of Lalbagh. This was basically a test run in an effort to create a safer environment as well as a technological tool for any kind of investigations. The trial run which went on for more than two weeks has now been endorsed by the Horticulture department. They will deploy the CCTV cameras any time now but with government’s approval.
Speaking to City Express, D L Maheshwar, Director of Horticulture said that they had a test run for 10 days. “Through this pilot project, we have taken some inputs with regard to time, distance, coverage which will now be incorporated. We will now call for tenders and install the CCTV cameras with government approval. The concept needs to be approved by professionals as we have some specific procedures where we need to look into technical specifications.”
However, the Director did not specify a time limit for installing this technology. “It all depends on government approval. I can’t give a specific time and secondly, we need to check whether the tenders applied are technically qualified. Right now, we have to get some inputs from the trial run. Based on this, we will approach how to solve the problems of both visitor’s safety and instances of vandalism,” he said. P Sadashiv, President, Lalbagh Walkers Association has welcomed the move and said, “During our last meeting with the Horticulture department, a question was raised about CCTV cameras and we were told that they had installed three cameras on trial run after which, they will take a decision. It is good if it is officially done, especially at the main gates of Lalbagh.
Recently, we had a bad experience at Lalbagh Main Gate on Double Road. Some drunkards drove their car inside Lalbagh at odd hours. There is nothing wrong with installing surveillance cameras at some locations as this technology will help to find such culprits.”
A few security guards and employees issuing tickets at the entrance of Lalbagh need CCTV camera to keep a watch out. Anand, who has been working for the past three years here said, “Lalbagh has become more of a public area where we see people from different walks of life. With these wide-open spaces crowded everyday and even more on weekends, it is definitely difficult to keep a track at all times. The CCTV cameras at certain locations inside the park is our only hope of curbing vandalism.”
The cameras need to be installed for a particular purpose, said Narasimha Murthy, a security guard at Lalbagh. “CCTV should be used to catch people who are abusing the system and spying should not be the intention. It is definitely a justified step to take,” he added.
However, a few employees at Lalbagh were not even aware that there was a CCTV camera installed at the entrance of Lalbagh. “I have not observed any such cameras during my working hours. It will definitely be a helping hand to people like us because it gets difficult to handle public,” he said.
Security cameras going up is another way to get public attention, says 22-year-old Pavithra, a frequent visitor to Lalbagh along with her friend, Purushotham.
“People go to the park mainly because you aren’t being crowded or watched all the time. We understand it is a public space but only hope that this new implementation will not take away our privacy,” she said.