The Assam government, which has recently launched an integrated traffic management system under the Smart Cities Mission of the Union government, has come under severe criticism for poor management and malfunctioning the traffic lights installed under the project, causing inconvenience to commuters. The criticism has also been triggered by the fact that the contract for this project was awarded to Technosys Security System Private Limited, which was blacklisted in Madhya Pradesh in 2020 allegedly for failure of maintenance work.
The same year, Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) had also terminated an agreement with Technosys, after a BJP councillor had made serious allegations against the company for using Chinese cameras and for charging more money by showing more signals and road length than the actual. Ironically, Technosys is headquartered in Ghaziabad.
When Ashok Singhal, the minister for Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, was asked if he had prior information of the company getting blacklisted in Madhya Pradesh and losing work in Uttar Pradesh, he passed the buck to Guwahati Smart City Limited (GSCL), a special purpose vehicle created to plan, design, implement, coordinate, and monitor the smart city projects in Guwahati.
“It is GSCL which floated the tender. At the minister level, it is very difficult to know which company is blacklisted and which is not. But we will ask for every piece of information from the company now,” Singhal told India Today NE. It’s a different matter that he was there at the inauguration of the integrated traffic management system to take credit for the work, which turned out to be rather sloppy later.
The GSCL floated the tender on December 16, 2021, and the agreement was signed with Technosys on March 17, 2022. According to an official source, the contract worth Rs 78.44 crore is for the installation of 1,016 cameras, including 316 red light violation detection cameras and 700 automatic number plate recognition cameras. Technosys started working on the project by the end of May 2022 and till now they have completed the installation of 20 intersections or junctions and 140 cameras have been installed. The deadline for completion of the project is March 2023.
Madhya Pradesh Police confirmed to India Today NE that the company was indeed blacklisted. The firm failed to resolve the mobile command and control vehicle problems under the Police Modernisation Scheme for two years. “The integrated traffic management system was installed by Technosys Security Systems Private Limited in 2015, but now we are not working with them anymore. It was blacklisted by us in 2020 for poor performance. We have handed over the AMC to another company,” Anil Kumar Patidar, Indore’s Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) told India Today NE.
In Ghaziabad, BJP Councillor Rajendra Tyagi wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath complaining about the rate quoted by the company for installation of camera, which allegedly was much higher than the prevalent market rate. Besides, the cameras installed were of Chinese origin, which according to Tyagi, could compromise country’s security as the cameras had recording facilities. “After we raised a question regarding the use of Chinese technology, the company was adamant and chose to back out, if necessary,” Tyagi told India Today NE.
He also alleged that the firm and the GDA had deliberately worked towards inflating the cost. “The contract was awarded for installation of cameras at 122 roundabouts/corridors. But a survey done by Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation and the traffic department for the installation of the ITMS, found that 48 out of the 122 had become redundant because of the NH9 widening project and the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project,” says Tyagi.
Neeraj Kushwaha, owner, and director of Technosys, admitted that the company was blacklisted in Madhya Pradesh and lost contract in Ghaziabad, but alleged unfair treatment by authorities on both occasions. “We signed a contract with Madhya Pradesh police in 2013 and our contract expired in 2016. We faced some issues over the maintenance clause as Madhya Pradesh police alleged that we did not provide services to the mobile command control centres. They blacklisted us in 2020, four years after the contract had expired. We approached the court, which gave a ruling in our favour,” Kushwaha told India Today NE.
For Ghaziabad contract termination, Kushwaha blamed it on political pressure by Tyagi and lack of support from the GDA and other agencies. “They were going through a lot of financial crunches. So, taking excuse of the blacklisting by MP police, they told us that they could not go ahead with the project. They offered to pay for whatever work we had completed, and we mutually decided to terminate the project,” says Kushwaha.
Why Ghaziabad authorities took exception to the blacklisting, Assam government and GSCL have decided to remain blissfully unaware. Meanwhile, commuters have not stopped complaining about the harrowing experience on the streets to Guwahati.
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