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Nirbhaya Funds: 5 Years Since, Where’s the Promised CCTV in Buses?

The project to install CCTVs in DTC buses slipped through the cracks for no coordination between Centre and State.

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India
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The gruesome Nirbhaya gangrape in a public bus sent shockwaves across the country on 16 December 2012. In light of the incident, the Government of India announced the allocation of Nirbhaya funds, pegging it as an exclusive fund for projects addressing women safety.

The Delhi government, in tow, promised to install CCTV cameras in (DTC) Delhi Transport Corporation buses.

Five years have passed since the Nirbhaya gangrape incident happened, but where are the CCTV cameras in DTC buses?

The reason to shelve the camera-installation would be justified if the National Capital reported a lower incidence of rape. But crime against women including rape, sexual harassment, stalking has only risen exponentially from 1,926 cases in 2012 to 15,272 cases in 2016, as per the National Crime Record Bureau.

An investigation by The Quint revealed that the lack of willingness and incompetence of the governments (at the State and Centre) and bureaucrats have denied our public transport commuters basic safety measures.

The Delhi Transport Department claims DTC buses will soon have CCTV cameras but the MWCD refused to release funds until the State government addresses some of the security issues raised in connection with the project.
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Delhi Govt Buses To Get CCTV, But Center Denies

In an answer to a Parliament question in 2016, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) had confirmed that it has approved Rs 140 crore from Nirbhaya funds for installation of CCTV Cameras and GPS devices in 6,655 DTC buses to strengthen women safety in public buses in the National Capital.

Almost two years have passed since, but why do we not see the promised CCTV cameras in buses?

The Special Commissioner of the Delhi Transport Department told The Quint that the MWCD and Ministry of Home Affairs through a letter raised concerns on how well the CCTV cameras will be monitored after they are installed in buses.

We had answered all queries raised by MWCD and MHA. All problems related to the monitoring of CCTV cameras and other security concerns have been addressed. Our department has already flouted tenders inviting the lowest bidder. We are expecting the Central government to release the Nirbhaya Fund for the project soon.  
KK Dhayiya, Special Commissioner, Delhi Transport Department
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No Response From the Delhi Govt On CCTV: MWCD

The Quint spoke to the MWCD to know whether the ministry is likely to release the funds since the Delhi Government has responded to all their queries. To our utter surprise we found that the Delhi Government has not yet replied to the MWCD.

We don’t want CCTV cameras to merely become a source of gathering forensic evidence. Hence we requested Delhi Government to link CCTV with integrated response component, an SOS button, so that the police can immediately act during an untoward incident. 
Senior Officer, Minister of Women and Child Development

The senior officer in MWCD further added that the ministry “cannot release funds to the Delhi Government until CCTV cameras have an integrated response system”. He further added that the ministry has rejected funds to Uttarakhand Government’s proposal for installation of CCTV cameras on similar grounds.

“The purpose of installing a CCTV camera in buses will go futile if police is unable to act immediately to curb crime,” claimed the senior officer.

Recently, a man was caught masturbating in front of a lady passenger inside a DTC bus. The lady passenger pleaded help from co-passengers but to no avail. She recorded the incident on her mobile and filed a complaint with the police. Are the governments (Center and State) waiting for another Nirbhaya incident in the National Capital to happen before they enhance women’s safety in buses? 
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Less Than Rs 1,000 crores of Nirbhaya Funds Released So Far

So far the MCWD has received Rs 3,600 crores as corpus money in Nirbhaya Funds but less than Rs 1,200 crores have been released by the ministry. “So far the Nirbhaya Funds committee has approved and allocated Rs 3,600 crores to different projects to enhance women safety,” claimed the senior officer of MCWD.

As per the details accessed by The Quint on the release, the ministry started releasing funds in the financial year 2016-17. Around Rs 26 crores was distributed in different states in 2015-16 to set up helplines for women and One Stop centres for women.

Details of Funds Released in 2016-17

  • Corpus to supplement States/UTs for Victim Compensation- Rs 200 crores
  • Integrated Emergency Response Management System- Rs 50 crores
  • Panic switch-based safety devices for cars and buses- Rs 2.44 crores
  • One Stop Centers- Rs 40.30 crores
  • Women help line- Rs 0.63 crores
  • Mahila Police Volunteers- Rs 1.53 crores
  • Rajasthan (Chirali Project) - Rs 0.23 crores

Details of Funds Released in 2017-18

  • Emergency Response Support System- Rs 267 crores
  • Cyber crime Prevention against women and children- Rs 82.50 crores
  • Delhi Police special unit for women and children- Rs 2.35 crore
  • Delhi Police Hiring of professional counsellors - Rs 0.50 crores
  • Various other activities under Delhi Police for safety of women - Rs 1.37 crores
  • Integrated Emergency Response Management System- Rs 100 crores
  • One Stop Centres- Rs 18.19 crores
  • Women helpline- Rs 5.29 crores
  • Mahila Police Volunteers- Rs 9.14 crores
  • Andhra Pradesh (Abhaya Project) - Rs 58.64 crores
  • Madhya Pradesh (Smart and safe cities for women)- Rs 1.05 crores
  • Nagaland (Nirbhaya Shelter home) - Rs 2.55 crores
  • Uttar Pradesh (UPSRTC)- Rs 40.20 crores
  • Uttarakhand (Safety and Security of Women) - Rs 0.32 crores
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But then why is there a delay in releasing the funds? Merely, approving projects on paper will certainly not make cities safe for women.

According to the sources in MWCD, funds are released in instalments depending on the progress made by the departments in implementing the projects.

“In several projects the departments have not even taken the first step to begin work in the approved projects. We cannot release funds until we see some progress,” claimed the senior officer of MCWD.

Clearly, lack of government coordination and rampant red-tapism is delaying the implementation of projects that could have helped our country inch towards being a safer place for women.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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