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Tribune Exclusive
Countryís first: Entire Mumbai to go under e-surveillance
Reliance Industries-backed consortium bags Rs 1,000-cr project
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, May 25
Indiaís richest man Mukesh Ambaniís Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)-backed consortium has bagged the prestigious Rs 1,000-crore surveillance project for his home city Mumbai. This is the countryís first internal-security deal being awarded to the private sector. The National Capital may also go in for a similar massive surveillance programme soon.

Originally, there were 10 bidders for the Mumbai project. The deal witnessed a tough competition with established companies like Siemens, HCL, Wipro, ECIL, all losing out in the end-game.

The RIL-backed consortium is led by Indian firm Allied Digital Services Limited. The IBM is part of the consortium. The RIL-consortiumís bid was found lowest, when the tenders were opened on Thursday morning.

The Tribune, in an exclusive report on February 4, had reported that Ambani was eyeing the fast-growing multi-billion dollar homeland security business in India and positioning himself as a defence, internal security and aerospace solutions vendor. Global experts have predicted a $16-billion market in India over the next 10 years.

The credit to bag the Mumbai surveillance project for the RIL-backed consortium goes to Dr Vivek Lall (42), an American scientist of Indian origin, whom Ambani picked up last year to head his newly created homeland security and aerospace division. In over $58-billion RIL group, Lall has been designated as the President and Chief Executive Officer.

The aim of putting entire Mumbai under surveillance is to secure the Commercial Capital of India which has witnessed a number of terrorist attacks so far.

The project will involve installing video-surveillance cameras, besides setting up command and control centres. Data servers will also be installed at various places across the city, including the National Stock Exchange and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The Mumbai surveillance programme is Ambaniís first homeland security project for which the Maharashtra Government floated the tender on January 23. Not only the Central and state governments but also big industrial houses, commercial and residential complexes want to secure their areas against terrorism and crime threats. Ambani is keen on capturing this vast market.

After the Mumbai terror attacks, the surveillance programme is the first significant development in Maharashtra. Sources said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had been the driving force behind the project to make the metropolitan city safe. RIL sources said the company would also leverage its broadband network to support the requirements for homeland security applications and services.

Insurgency and terrorism have become global challenges, and in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in major cities, the Central Government has felt the need for digital surveillance and security services.

The traditional security platforms have been found inadequate to address the new challenges associated with global terrorism. Security experts believe there is a need to support the efforts of law enforcing agencies with intelligent and real-time electronic and digital solutions.

TACKLING TERROR

n The need for an internal-security project was felt after a series of terror attacks in Mumbai

n It is the countryís first internal-security deal being awarded to a private sector player

n The project will involve installing video cameras and setting up command and control centres

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