With 1,826.58 cameras per square mile, Delhi is among the most surveilled cities in the world – But Kya Safest city hai?
Recently, I came across an article on the Diplomat that talked about Delhi’s heavy surveillance and its impact on women safety. I found the article quite insightful and decided to research a bit more on the subject. According to a report by Comparitech, Delhi is among the most surveilled cities in the world. According to the report, two Indian cities – Delhi and Chennai – have more cameras per square mile than any Chinese city. Comparing Delhi and London – Delhi has 1826 cameras and London has 1138 cameras per square mile. Notably, Rs. 264 crores was spent on installing 1.32 lakh CCTVs in Delhi. According to Delhi Economic Survey 2020 -2021, for safety, the installation of CCTV cameras in each assembly area has been increased to 4000 from 2000. But the question is, has it made the city safer? Is there any correlation between safety and the installation of CCTV cameras? The answer is No. Forget about women, Delhi is not safe for anyone. Let us take a look at the statistics.
Crime Rate in Delhi
The NCRB data shows that 461 people were murdered in Delhi in the year 2020. Compared to this, in 2019 around 505 people were murdered. According to data, the city reported 461 murder cases in 2020- the highest among 19 metropolitan cities. (However, the rate of murder was 0.2 which was less than Nagpur, Jaipur and Patna and was equal to Bengaluru, Indore and Lucknow). Talking about the Kidnapping cases in the national capital, the report revealed that 3,770 minors were kidnapped in Delhi – Again the highest among the 19 metro cities. Going by the report, the financial capital of India Mumbai is much safer than Delhi.
Women’s Safety in Delhi
According to an article by The Hindu, Delhi was ranked at the number 1 position when it comes to crime against women. Crime against women in Delhi accounts for 28 per cent of total cases, the report by NCRB revealed. The report says 1,231 cases of rape were reported in the capital in 2019 followed by 517 in Jaipur, and 344 cases in Mumbai. The cases of molestation stood at 2,311 in Delhi followed by 2,069 in Mumbai and 748 in Jaipur.
Is there any correlation between crime and CCTV cameras?
Well, no study has been done on this yet. But one study that evaluated the effects of CCTV in Cambridge city detailed that “CCTV had no effect on crime according to police records.” The study was revealed that the installation of CCTV cameras didn’t impact the number of crimes, it has just caused better reporting to/and or recording by the police. Notably, CCTV installation was advanced after the Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi, where a 23- year –old woman was brutally raped in a moving bus. After the incident, the government agreed that CCTV cameras would form a part of the technological solutions in order to make the city safer for women. But the installation has hardly changed the scenario in the national capital. However, an article on Internetfreedom. Also pointed out how the installation of CCTV cameras can also compromise the privacy of women.
The CCTV initiative of the Delhi government began on June 3, 2019, wherein they committed to installing 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras in Delhi, with another 1.3 cameras installed in 2020 -2021. The total expenditure done on this was 264 crore till March 2021 and the total amount allotted to the project is 1,184.73 crore. The article revealed that there was no impact on the crime rate. In fact, crime in Delhi increased exponentially in the year 2021. On Contrary, these CCTV cameras contribute to serious privacy violations. Notably, the CCTV feed can be accessed by RWA, local police, market associations and the Public works Department as per a non –legal Standard Legal Operating Procedure. There is no legal basis in place to safeguard that how much data of these cameras are stored, processed and shared further.
What do women of Delhi have to say?
Many activists and experts believe that the installation of CCTV cameras has helped in collecting evidence, not prevented it. Women in Delhi want better patrolling from the police and better street lights to feel safe rather than the CCTV cameras. Women also want Police to be gender-sensitive so that they can easily report a crime. In the past 5 years, the Delhi government has taken major steps to make the National capital safer for women. But it has a long way to go.
Delhi government has installed CCTV cameras, 428 Cluster Scheme buses now have panic buttons and are GPS procured. Apart from this, 30 per cent of 22,000 dark spots have been illuminated with streetlights. We decided to speak to women and understand the situation better.
A resident of Rohini, Delhi, 28- year -old woman narrated the incident of robbery and said that CCTV would not prevent the crime. She said while returning home from work, she doesn’t feel safe despite the fact that her locality has CCTV cameras.
In another incident, a resident of Delhi narrated that he was robbed near a metro station and the locality had CCTV cameras. Later, when he lodged an FIR, it was found that the CCTV camera was not working.
Asha Mishra, mother of two teenagers revealed her concern that a lot of times her daughters are even teased when they leave school. She suggested that government should have a provision for guards or police patrolling near schools. To make women feel safe in the national capital, poor illumination and last-mile connectivity need to be resolved.
Solution & Suggestions
- Working condition of cameras should be inspected every six months
- Dark Spots should get the Street Lights Asap
- CCTV projects should be inclusive of women’s groups as well. It should also have technologists and digital rights organisations
Kyunki Sirf Cameras Kaafi Nhi!