Helplines expanded from two to 10 lines

Following a recent instance where a conductor of a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus was accused of sexually harassing a woman commuter on a late night trip, authorities have expanded their helpline (18004251663) from two lines to 10.

It will now accord priority to complaints of sexual harassment, said Kumar Pushkar, Director (IT), BMTC. “While there were suggestions to start a separate helpline for women-related issues, we felt that an integrated helpline would be better,” he said. The call centre will co-ordinate with the Sarathi fleet of BMTC and also the police’s mobile units to ensure help reaches the spot at the earliest.

A call to the helpline is welcomed by a recorded message that gives three options — one for general complaints, two for complaints regarding sexual harassment and three for senior citizens and the physically challenged. If the caller selects option two, he/she is immediately connected to the operator.

BMTC recently formed a committee to look into women-related issues on its buses and facilities. The committee has representatives from BMTC, police, voluntary organisations working for women and commuter forums. It has taken up a sensitisation program for conductors and drivers.

Vinay Srinivasa of Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike, which is represented on the committee, said, “While strengthening the helpline is a good initiative, there is no standard procedure within the organisation to deal with such cases. Also, the union is not represented on this committee, making it incomplete.”

More CCTVs on buses

At present, 500 buses have been equipped with CCTV cameras. BMTC has requested funds from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to equip the remaining buses with CCTV cameras. Mr Pushkar said that the proposal was submitted in December 2013. If it does not get the nod soon, BMTC is considering installing CCTV cameras in at least 1,500 more buses from its own funds this year, he added.

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