Reveals a Right To Information reply

Another Union budget is round the corner but the Rs.1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund announced last year by Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram, to ensure the safety and security of travelling women, continues to remain a nonstarter, a Right To Information reply has revealed.

The brutal gang rape of a Delhi student inside a moving bus on December 16, 2012, and her subsequent death forced the government to announce this novel scheme in last year’s annual budget, but the fund has been lying unspent for more than a year.

Rs.1,000-crore fund

“Parliament has approved the setting up of a Rs.1,000-crore fund titled the Nirbhaya Fund. The funds have not been used so far as the relevant schemes are yet to be finalised,” said an RTI reply by Amit Bansal, Under Secretary of the Economic Affairs Department of the Finance Ministry, given on January 1 to Kochi-based lawyer D.B. Binu from the same department.

Project proposals

Installation of closed circuit television cameras at important public places, GPS and emergency buttons in transport buses to link them with police stations, toll-free numbers, and self-defence lessons for the needy were included in the proposed project.

32 cities

The plan was to implement the project in 32 cities but none of the city authorities have received any guidelines or orders for implementation so far.

“During the first anniversary of the gang-rape, the government had claimed that three projects under the Nirbhaya Scheme were implemented. But the RTI reply exposes their claim,” Mr. Binu said.

Clarification

The last paragraph of “One year later, Nirbhaya Fund lies unused” (Jan. 9, 2014, some editions) said: “ … the government had claimed that three projects under the Nirbhaya Scheme were implemented. But the RTI reply exposes their claim.” A letter from the Finance Minister’s office said: “While the report is substantially correct, the last paragraph to the effect that ‘false claims have been made’ is totally wrong. No false claim has been made by the Government. The Cabinet has approved one proposal from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Two other proposals … have been given in principle approval …”

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