Announcing steps to improve safety and security of women in the Capital, the Union government on Wednesday said it would augment phone lines of police helpline number ‘100’ from 60 to 100, while women counselling helpline ‘1091’ would be converted into a distress helpline for women. It has also been decided to deploy police-verified drivers and assistants on school buses, while DTC buses would be fitted with GPS and CCTV cameras.

Issuing directions to the Delhi government and the Delhi Police after heading the first meeting of the task force formed to look into safety and security issues of women in Delhi, Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said, apart from increasing capacity of the police helpline, the number of women counselling helpline ‘1091’ would be manned only by women, while the number of lines would be increased from two to 10. The task force also reviewed‘1096’ anti-obscene and anti-stalking helpline.

“The Delhi Police and the Delhi government, that are running these helplines, have been told that under no circumstances those manning these crucial phone lines will ask a person in distress to call any other number or direct the person to any other forum. Similarly, the Delhi Police have also been asked to promptly respond to every call made to the helpline ‘100’, while more PCR vans will be added more proactive response,” a senior MHA official said.

The task force also discussed measures to improve safety of those using public transport, particularly buses. All DTC buses would be connected to a centralised control room by February 1 this year.

It would be mandatory for every crew member of a public transport vehicle to have a photo identify card by March 1, 2013, duly verified by the Delhi Police. If this is not complied with, the police would not allow these vehicles to ply. Similarly, schools have been asked to hire transport vehicles only after proper police verification of bus owners and its crew. All these formalities need to be completed by February 1, the official added.

Stating that the Delhi Police have been asked to ensure that all discotheques, including those in hotels, should be shut by 1 a.m., the official said the police would identify unsafe bus routes, particularly for women, and deploy police personnel in plain clothes on these routes. Similarly, every police station would have a women’s help desk manned by lady staffers and associated with women NGO volunteers, while at least two women cops would be stationed at all police stations at night.

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