BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to enhance passengers’ safety in public transport, check criminal activities and keep tab on drivers and other staff, the State Government has proposed to introduce CCTV surveillance and GPS in buses.
The Transport Department has published a draft notification for incorporation of CCTV cameras and GPS in the buses. Every state carrier permit holder shall install CCTV and GPS in the vehicle duly certified by the Regional Transport Officer. The owner should also ensure that the equipment are always in functional condition.
The objective is to make the vehicles safe for the passenger. While CCTV surveillance will come as a major protective measure for women from eve-teasing and other criminal activities, it will also prove a deterrent against pick-pocketing and theft.
It will also keep the drivers and other vehicle staff like conductors and helpers in check as complaints of rash driving, drunken driving, misbehaviour and harassment and fleecing of legitimate passengers are commonplace in buses.
There are over 14,000 private buses plying the State. The CCTV experiment has been successfully conducted in many States and cities including Kolkata. In Kolkata, buses have three cameras installed at vantage points to monitor every part of the vehicle.
The Department has moved to make both CCTV and GPS mandatory for every bus by amending the Odisha Motor Vehicle Rules, 1993. It has sought suggestions and objections from different stakeholders, particularly the bus owners, within a period of one month of the draft notification.
The proposed security measures also include stringent crosscheck of the antecedents of the vehicle staff before engaging them. Every permit holder should verify and submit police report on the drivers, conductors and helpers before they are employed.
However, the bus operators do not appear enthused by the proposals. While the CCTV camera has been welcomed by the operators, the move to ensure GPS monitoring has been opposed.
“Installation of CCTV cameras on buses will be beneficial for us not only for safety reasons but also commercial considerations. But GPS monitoring by the Department can lead to harassment,” secretary of Odisha Private Bus Owners Association Debendra Sahoo said.
Further, making verification of staff at the operator level mandatory will not be feasible. “Bus staff, including drivers, are changed frequently due to various reasons. By mandating verification, most importantly police verification report, before engagement is not possible. Such verifications should be done at the RTO level before issuing the licence,” Sahoo said.