Integration of police administration with mobile phone network to trace distress calls in the shortest possible time and installation of GPS in public transports are some of the measures for safety of women that will soon be a reality, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday.
“Instructions will be issued by the Ministry of Information Technology to all mobile phone manufacturers to introduce, mandatorily, an SoS alert button in handsets. The manufacturers will also be instructed to install an SoS alert system in the existing handsets through free downloading of suitable software,” the minister said.
The scheme will be launched in 157 cities in two phases at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore.
These proposals would come up for approval by the Union Cabinet within a week, said the minister, who introduced a Rs 1000-crore Nirbhaya Fund in this year’s Budget as a tribute to the Delhi gang-rape victim.
He also countered reports that nothing was done to utilise the fund. “Lots of work have been done by the ministries and I think it is unfair to say nobody has done any work,” he said.
“We asked the ministries to work out, they have worked out proposals, we rejected many, which did not fulfil the objectives. Three have been approved in principle. Apart from these, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is also formulating a scheme for vulnerability mapping etc to be rolled out,” Chidambaram said.
The Road Transport Ministry also proposed a scheme, “Security of women in road transport in the country”, which would cover 32 towns – each with a population of over one million – to be implemented over two years. The expected outlay is about Rs 1,700 crore, he said.
Under the proposal, public transport vehicles will have GPS for easy tracking. Installation of CCTVs and appointment of women drivers and conductors are among the other steps to enhance women’s safety.
The Railway Ministry, Chidambaram said, proposed to launch a public scheme for setting up an SoS alert system in trains in select zones. The facility would cover all service providers from all telecom circles. It would have a call recording facility. A call centre, which would support English and Hindi languages, would be set up.
Rolling out of the scheme would require an estimated Rs 25.17 crore. “Hopefully, the three ministries will bring it to the Cabinet either this Thursday or the next, and if the Cabinet approves, they will start rolling it out,” he said.