6 yrs after Nirbhaya case, buses still not have enough marshals

NEW DELHI: Only two are days left for 6th Nirbhaya anniversary, the gruesome Nirbhaya gangrape in a public bus sent shockwaves across the country on December 16, 2012. From CCTV cameras to GPS trackers and marshals, the Delhi government's attempts at making public buses safe for passengers, especially women, have failed to take off.

While the Delhi government had approved a proposal to install CCTV cameras in 6,350 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses. The project was cleared by the Delhi Cabinet even though Delhi's current bus fleet stands at 5,561.

Providing marshals in buses for safety of public, especially women, was one of AAP's main poll promises during the 2015 assembly elections. However, against the need of 5,561 marshals, only about 1,100 are currently deployed in DTC buses. But no any marshal has been deputed in around 1,679 cluster buses, running on the city roads in the national capital.

"As there are not enough marshals for all buses, we deploy them on rotation. Most are deployed in the evening and late night. A tender for 400 security guard-cum-marshals for 200 buses was floated in 2016, but the response was not good," a DTC official said.

Meanwhile, 1,679 cluster buses are yet to get a single marshal. "Cluster buses were never included in the government's scheme of providing marshals," said an official of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited, which operates the service.

Even though the 1,679 cluster buses, which replaced Blue Line, are equipped with GPS but none are functioning in the cluster buses . As far as DTC buses are concerned, nearly none of 3,882 DTC buses have tracking devices installed.

"Now, both the CCTV cameras and GPS trackers will be fitted in all buses simultaneously by March 2019 by the same company," another official said. On the eve of International Women's Day, the Delhi government had claimed that a pilot project is being launched for equipping public buses with panic alarm system to ensure safety of women passengers. All buses in the national capital will have panic buttons by March 2019.

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