Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday dedicated a large part of her speech at the National Development Council meeting to the issue of safety and empowerment of women in Delhi.

Sharing the concern expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, Ms. Dikshit criticised the incidents of violence and sexual assault against women. “It is shameful that such incidents are still taking place in the city and other parts of the country. My government has taken a number of measures to make women feel safer and more protected,” she said.

On the specific steps that have been initiated, Ms. Dikshit said a dedicated round-the-clock women in distress helpline with the number 181 would be made functional within couple of days in her office. She said the Delhi Government was also pitching for 33 per cent reservation for women in the police. The Government has also requested the Delhi Police to deploy more Police Control Room vans, widely publicise police protocols and impart training to police personnel for dealing with the citizens in a proper manner, she said.

Apart from this, Ms. Dikshit said on the insistence of the Delhi Government, the High Court has decided to commission five fast-track courts in the city to ensure speedy justice to the victims.

The Chief Minister claimed a number of steps have also been taken to empower women in Delhi and these include 50 per cent reservation for them in the three Municipal Corporations; releasing more funds to ensure better outreach of programmes of Delhi Commission for Women and earmarking Rs.1,380 during the fiscal for social schemes directed at women alone.

In this regard, Ms. Dikshit made a mention of how Ladli Scheme has been implemented to encourage education of girls and the Kishori Scheme for providing adolescent girls a healthy and disease-free life. Apart from this, she said the Government has also earmarked 65 per cent of its outlay for social sector schemes.

Delhi, she noted, has also become the first State to introduce direct cash transfer through Aadhar Unique Identification scheme. She said under the Dilli Annashree Yojana launched earlier this month, a sum of Rs. 600 per month would be transferred directly into the accounts of the eldest women of about 2 lakh poor families which were not covered under the Public Distribution Scheme.

Ms. Dikshit also urged the Centre to enhance Delhi’s share out of Central Taxes from Rs. 325 crore, at which it has been frozen since 2001-02, to Rs. 3,500 crore for implementation of the 12 Five Year Plan projects.

The Chief Minister said financial support to local bodies in Delhi from the Union Government should also be increased on the lines of other States and sought coverage of Delhi under the purview of 14th Central Finance Commission.

Making a mention of how Delhi’s contribution to the national income was 3.8 per cent while its share in the total population was 1.5 per cent, the Chief Minister said Delhi has registered an average annual growth of 10.2 per cent in the 11th Five Year Plan and has planned for 10.5 per cent growth in the 12th Plan (2012-17). She also noted that the debt to gross domestic product ratio of Delhi at 9 per was the lowest among all the States and this reflected on its good financial management.