32 cities to have women's safety features in public vehicles

Ten months after announcing Rs 1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund, the government has finally decided to spend from it as it approved installation of panic buttons, CCTV cameras and GPS tracking system on public transport vehicles in 32 cities with the population of more than ten lakhs.

The project, to be implemented in two years time, will cost the exchequer Rs 1,405 crore.  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, that met here, cleared the proposal from the road and transport ministry.

Funds will be allocated for setting up a unified system at the national level (National Vehicle Security and Tracking System) and state level (City Command and Control Centre), a government statement said.

The implementation would help mapping and tracking routes of public transport vehicles, highlighting violation of rules through visual and text signals, providing panic button to police through visual, text and voice, setting up registration and license cancellation based criteria for enforcement, and offering security to women and girl children by attending to them in times of distress in minimum response time.

Despite announcing the fund in last year’s budget, after the brutal gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi in December 2012, using the Nirbhaya fund was caught in wrangling between ministries. Several ministries, including home and transport, had supported their proposals in November.  The fund, set up after the government’s promise to address the safety issues of women, was cleared earlier by the finance ministry.

As part of ensuring women’s safety, the scheme would provide for tracking of all public vehicles. Defaults will be tracked and updated on the database of the vehicle.

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