Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have witnessed an increase in demand by 30-45 per cent in the last one year, according to Bangalore dealers. But the demand is mainly for low resolution, cheap Chinese-made models in the range of `2000-`3000. And these cameras are going downmarket bars and wine stores in the city, which must mandatorily instal CCTV cameras. With no enforcement since last year, when the rule came into force, many liquor joints have remained indifferent to the stipulation.
Exam halls, BMTC buses, and even the Bangalore Turf Club are monitoring people closely. While ATMs have suddenly come under scrutiny and roads are monitored from the new traffic management hub on Infantry Road, liquor joints are managing to escape the watchful eye .
City Express undertook an informal survey on bars and wine stores which had to mandatorily fix CCTV cameras. Out of the bars visited, mainly in Kailasipalyam, Yeshwantpur, Majestic, Shivajinagar, Brigade Road and Gutehalli, it was obvious that drunken brawls were not uncommon.
“Brawls of minor consequences take place on a daily basis. Major brawls which lead to injury or even murder are also common, but the root cause is of course the bar. CCTVs are just for identification, it cannot prevent any crime. While, it helps the police to crack down on culprits, how many of joints re following the rule?” asked a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Most bars and wine stores have fixed CCTV cameras, but the functioning is not being enforced by the police. “We have not looked at the camera after installing it. No one has come to check, probably because there were no serious incidents that took place at our bar,” said a supervisor of a bar at Kailasipalyam while asking his boy to switch on the CCTV camera.
According to Kamal Pant, additional commissioner of police (law and order), the Karnataka Police Act stipulates that bar and wine shop owners provide the footage whenever the police ask them for it. “If they do not, they are liable to pay a fine, and if they repeat the mistake, they risk cancellation of their licence. If we are suspicious that a particular place is not abiding by the rules, we conduct raids,” he says.
Another issue is that there is no recommendation on the resolution of these cameras. “The demand is more for low-end cameras which come for `2000-3000, while the high resolution cameras cost between `10,000 and `12,000,” said Ravi AM, manager with Puthur Infotec, a dealer in CCTV cameras in Banaswadi.
According to Vikas Bhansali, director of Transteck Systems private limited, which also deals in CCTV cameras in Sahakara Nagar, there is indeed a lot more to be done in terms of effective surveillance.
“They enforce installation and then forget its actual implementation. Only when an incident happens is when they wake up. Many low end establishments do not follow the exact procedures,” he says.
“It’s true that even in places that have cameras, they may not be of great quality and the lighting might be too dim to capture the footage clearly. But the rules don’t specify a minimum resolution---that will be too technical for us to get into,” says Pant.
Fortunate or unfortunate, there was no CCTV for Tehelka’s Tejpal. Closer home, the Bangalore ATM attacker is still at large. The CCTV footage from Pebble Pub, where a brawl took place, provided no help.
When a incident of high criminal consequence happens, police might just have to return empty handed, given that currently many CCTV cameras act as a residential enclave for spiders and cockroaches.