Number of marshals on Delhi buses to rise: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses during a ceremony to induct 6000 bus marshals, in New Delhi, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Asserting his government's commitment to boost women security in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said the number of marshals on buses in the national capital will be increased by nearly 10,000 on the auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj.

Kejriwal's announcement comes a day ahead of the roll out of the AAP government's scheme to make travel free for women in Delhi Transport Corporation and cluster buses.

"Today, I am entrusting you all with a responsibility to ensure safety of women in each government bus and generate confidence in them, so that they feel the comfort of a home in our buses," he told a gathering of newly recruited bus marshals at Thyagraj Stadium here.

He also told the marshals to "not spare anyone" if someone misbehaves with women.

Kejriwal said the current strength of bus marshals in Delhi is 3,400.

"Tomorrow is an auspicious day of Bhai Dooj, and tomorrow the number of marshals for our buses will increase to nearly 13,000," he said to a thunderous applause.

"We are committed to boost security of women in Delhi. And I don't think the level at which we have scaled up the strength of bus marshals, it has been done in any city in the world," the chief minister said.

The announcement also comes months ahead of the Delhi assembly elections.

"The two crore people of Delhi are like a close-knit family and as the chief minister I am like an elder son of this family. I must take care of each member of my family. It is my duty to ensure that each person gets free electricity up to 200 units for 24 hours; to send the elderly to pilgrimage, and provide all facilities to them for a comfortable life," he said.

However, he said, it's been a matter of concern that women "do not feel safe in the city".

"So, as the elder son of this family, it is also my duty to ensure a safe and secure environment for all the women. It is now your (marshals') responsibility to ensure that all my mothers, sisters and daughters who travel on the buses feel safe and secure. And feel the safety they feel at home in buses," he added.

Kejriwal said he hoped the marshals will serve their duty with sincerity and determination.

"The safety of women is most important for us and women should feel safe at all times. Because we are a family, we have to ensure a safe place for each other. On the occasion of Bhai Dooj, the Delhi government will implement a free bus ride scheme from tomorrow," he said.

The current 3,400 bus marshals have served their duties with full responsibility and excellence, because of which the people have supported the government and demanded marshals in all buses in all shifts.

"The new marshals have to also work at par with these 3,400 marshals so that the people of Delhi can feel proud of us," he said.

The Delhi government has already taken several initiatives to ensure women's safety in the city, from installation of CCTV cameras to erecting streetlights.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the world, three lakh CCTV cameras are being installed all across Delhi by the government. No other city has installed CCTV cameras on such a scale, Kejriwal said, adding, two lakh streetlights will be installed in Delhi starting November.

Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said, "I want to request all the marshals to ensure women feel safe just like they feel safe in their homes. We have entrusted you with a huge responsibility... We want to make this the best bus marshal project in the world".

The 13,000 marshals include 6,000 civil defense personnel, who will be deployed after their training on Monday, the Delhi government said in a statement.

The training session at Thyagraj Stadium was held in two phases, with 3,000 marshals in each. The training was conducted by Jagori Foundation and Manas Foundation.

Kejriwal had flagged off 104 new buses last week from the Dwarka Sector-22 bus depot. These buses are equipped with CCTV cameras, panic buttons and GPS facilities.

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