The Telegraph
Friday , June 13 , 2014
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Cams in coma cry for chill pill

The merciless mercury has preyed on around four dozen unsuspecting, if not unlikely, victims.

Surveillance cameras, which were running on a trial basis at the A-category Tatanagar station for the past three months, blinked to death on Wednesday, apparently unable to withstand the continuous temperature torment in the absence of a single air-conditioner in the control room.

The sudden termination of the busy junction’s electronic security system sent the RPF into a tizzy and its officers sent an SOS to Garden Reach (the headquarters of South Eastern Railway) to sanction the cooling machines.

RPF commandant Arun Kumar Chaurasia, who is also in charge of closed-circuit television camera monitoring at Tatanagar station, admitted that the station scanning system had malfunctioned in extreme heat.

“We have written to the SER headquarters, seeking adequate number of ACs for the control room. The weather has taken a toll on the 46 CCTV cameras installed across the premises. The snag can be rectified, but it will recur if nothing is done to control temperature,” Chaurasia told The Telegraph on Thursday.

According to air-conditioning experts, all electrical and electronic gadgets generate “body heat” while functioning. Temperature control, based on that heat load calculation, is necessary to protect the internal circuit from getting fried.

“A CCTV control room needs to maintain a temperature not above 30°C. It is like a cyber cafe and is equipped with a server. If the temperature shoots up above the mentioned mark, the server fails. This might have happened at Tatanagar station, which has no aircon,” Debraj Mondal, a software expert and representative of Calcutta-based Honeywell Automation Limited that installed the cameras.

The small and smart electronic surveillance army was deployed at Tatanagar to wish its 10,000-odd daily passengers a safe and happy journey. Honeywell Automation had installed the cameras by the end of February and the RPF began trial run on March 1. Full-fledged operations had been pending because of differences over the range of the cameras.

“The cameras put up at strategic locations had little value because images beyond seven metres were barely discernible whereas the gadgets came with the range promise of 30 metres. Hence, the Chakradharpur authorities were holding back their final nod. But now, in the absence of ACs, the trial run too has been stopped,” said an RPF officer, on the condition of anonymity.

Another senior RPF man expressed concern over what the absence of surveillance could do to the station. “Even by their sheer presence, CCTV cameras exercised psychological pressure on trouble-mongers who will now run amok. Air-conditioners must be installed very soon and the cameras revived to ensure safety of passengers and railway property,” he said.

On the surveillance range handicap, RPF commandant Chaurasia said they were getting some of the CCTV cameras relocated to ensure “effective coverage” of the station. “For the rest (read ACs), we have already sent a requisition. Let’s hope the situation will be better soon,” he added, parrying the question why temperature control was not considered before the cameras were fixed.

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