Congress-CPI(M) set for another face off over AI cameras

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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and the Congress are set for another major face-off with the Motor Vehicle Department set to start issuing legal notices to motorists for traffic violations detected by the newly installed artificial intelligence-powered (AI) cameras from June 5.

The Congress party on Saturday announced a Statewide sit-in protest in front of the 726 AI traffic surveillance cameras on June 5, alleging lack of transparency and corruption in the AI camera deal. The CPI(M) condemned the protest call, which it portrayed as an attempt to derail a project aimed at reducing road accidents and saving lives.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president alleged that the Keltron had enabled a deal in which crores of commission exchanged hands. He said that the Industries Secretary who was shifted out of the post was reinstated on giving a report favourable to the government regarding the deal. He also questioned the Chief Minister’s silence on the deal. The government was also reluctant to order a judicial enquiry, he said.

The CPI(M) State secretariat, in a statement, said that the Congress was now moving to destroy not just proposed developmental projects, but even those which had already been implemented. The government had implemented the project to avoid loss of life in road accidents, after taking into consideration directives of the court too. Within days of its installation, it proved to be a success, with violations dropping.

According to the statement, the number of violations before the installation of cameras was 2.13%, but later it was 1.41%. The AI camera system started functioning in the State on April 20. On April 17, 4,50,552 vehicles had committed various violations, but on April 24, it had reduced to 2,72,540. With the introduction of fines, the number of violations would come down to less than one lakh. The cameras and the system to monitor and control it had been prepared using the most modern technologies at the lowest cost without spending any money on the government.

The statement said that the opposition as well as certain media outlets that ran a campaign alleging corruption were not able to prove these allegations. The government had taken the initiative to enquire into these allegations because it had nothing to hide, it said.