For 2019-20, the Ministry of Railways has allocated Rs 19.54 crore for the installation of CCTV surveillance cameras across various railway stations in Tamil Nadu, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal informed Lok Sabha on November 27. As of now, 19 railway stations in the state have installed these cameras. The funds allocated this year are an 1129% increase over 2018-19, when Rs 1.59 crore were allocated. Between 2015-19, a total of Rs 53.12 crore have been allocated to the Southern Railway for CCTV installation in Tamil Nadu railway stations alone. The Railways Ministry plans to cover all Tamil Nadu railway stations by March 2021.

Funds allocated to Southern Railway to install CCTV cameras in stations in Tamil Nadu

In August, the Madras High Court had directed the Southern Railway to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in railway coaches/compartments for the purpose of providing adequate security to women, children and elderly passengers.

Rising number of CCTVs, face recognition and biometric authentication systems

The installation of CCTVs, facial recognition systems and biometric authentication systems is becoming pervasive in India, especially at railway stations and airports.

  • Railway stations: Ludhiana railway station is soon going to have Aadhaar-enabled biometric machines to keep a check on the railway staff at the general ticketing counters, and tackle the menace of touts at the ticketing booth. Since August 2019, Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus railway stations of the Western Railway have had biometric systems for issuing tokens to passengers of longer journeys. The Delhi Metro is also reportedly planning to links biometric information to Metro cards at its stations.
  • Airports: Delhi’s international airport is already running a pilot facial recognition system for Vistara passengers. Bangalore’s Kempegowda airport too has these systems in certain parts of the airport. Pune airport will also reportedly have these systems installed on its premises by 2020.
  • Schools: The Delhi government launched a project mandating CCTV camera installation in all Delhi government schools, and  schools in Gujarat have also started using the technology to ensure attendance of teachers and students. The Delhi government is also shrouding the city with 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras.

NCRB gives a legal basis for its facial recognition system: On top of all this, the National Crime Records Bureau has justified the legality of its automated facial recognition system (AFRS) on the basis of a Cabinet note from 2009. The bids for the projects are currently open. NCRB has said that its face recognition system will collect footage from CCTV cameras installed in public places if the video footage is part of a crime scene.