‘Nirbhaya scheme’ for women’s transport security at standstill

Road minister Nitin Gadkari demonstrating panic button (Year 2015)

A well-publicized scheme for ensuring security for women in public road transport unveiled in the wake of the brutal ‘Nirbhaya’ rape and murder of in December 2012 seems to have ground to a halt in the absence of political will.

According to the ministry of road transport and highways, only Rs 1.43 cr was spent on the ‘Security for Women in Public Road Transport’ scheme which came with  a budget of Rs 1,405 cr was supposed to be complete by last year.

“During 2014-15, the budgetary allocation of scheme was Rs. 50 Crore out of which Rs 1.43 Crore was spent. Thereafter, no expenditure has been made under this scheme,” the ministry said in response to a query today.

According to details of the plan, the project would have set up of a unified monitoring system comprising panic buttons and video cameras in public transport vehicles in the top 32 cities of the country.

The scheme, approved by the cabinet in January 2014, envisaged the setting up of a ‘National Vehicle Security and Tracking System’ and ‘City Command and Control Centres’ for monitoring video feeds and emergency buttons.

The infrastructure was to be ready within two years.

“The (emergency) button will generate an alarm in the system,” the government said at the time. “For vehicles which are also provided with facilities for video recording, the City Command and Control Centre can receive pictures of actual incidents and raise an alarm with the nearest police and transport patrol to reach the bus.”

“Incidents recorded will be kept for seven days in the on-board unit and can be used as evidence and arrest of accused in case of any incident,” it added.

The Rs 1.43 cr spent on the scheme was paid to ‘Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit Systems Limited’ for providing project management consultancy for setting up the necessary systems.

Meanwhile, some states such as Rajasthan have tried to install panic buttons and cameras inside some of their buses. Three months ago, Karnataka government tried to get some funds released under the program to install cameras in buses.

It is not known if the poor implementation of the scheme was because of the transfer of the Nirbhaya fund — with around Rs 3,500 cr in it — from the roads and highways ministry to the women and child development ministry in April 2015. The money for the project was to come from the Nirbhaya fund.