A year after Delhi gang-rape, Govt wakes up to women’s security

| | Updated on: Dec 16, 2013
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Facing criticism for not utilising the Rs 1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund announced in the Budget, the Government is set to implement various measures to ensure safety and security of women in public places. The measures include fixing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on buses, an SOS alert system in trains and an SOS button on mobile handsets.

The Fund was set up after public outrage over the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old paramedical intern in New Delhi last December.

“The Cabinet will take up proposals from three Ministries — Home (in association with the Information Technology Ministry), Roads and Railways — either this Thursday or, at the maximum, next Thursday,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters on Monday. The proposals will aim at utilising the fund, and the corpus will be enhanced from time to time.

The proposal for an SOS button on mobile handsets came from the Home Ministry in consultation with the Information Technology Ministry. It involves instructing all mobile phone makers to mandatorily introduce an SOS alert button in all handsets. For existing handsets, users will be allowed to download software for an SOS alert system free-of-cost.

In the first phase, the scheme will be launched in 55 cities, while the second phase will cover 102 cities. The expected outlay for this proposal is Rs 1,000 crore.

The proposal to introduce CCTV cameras came from the Roads Ministry and will cover 32 cities with a population of one million or more. It will be implemented in two years at an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore. The scheme will make it mandatory for public transport vehicles to have a Global Positioning System (GPS) to enable tracking and enforcement. Permits will be issued only if vehicles have an on-board GPS.

The scheme also envisages a control room in select cities to track public vehicles, CCTVs in public buses, scrutiny and constant review of every public transport vehicle and driver, a women’s enforcement wing in the transport department, and training and licensing more women drivers and conductors.

The third proposal envisages setting up an SOS alert system on trains in select zones. This will be a kind of helpline and will cover all service providers in telecom circles consisting of mobile and landline networks. It entails recording conversations between passengers and call centre agents.

Initially, the proposed call centres will communicate in English and Hindi. However, the system can be upgraded to a mode wherein calls can be transferred to regional call centres.

Published on March 12, 2018

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