Jul 2, 2016

Railways claims half of idle Nirbhaya fund for CCTVs

Having failed to utilise Rs 1,000 crore allocated for women's safety projects under the Nirbhaya fund for the first two years after it was set up, the Centre has found a new way to put the money to use.

CCTVS GALORE


Interestingly, half the amount, a whopping Rs 500 crore from the fund, which was essentially created to fight crimes against women and promote gender equality, will be spent on installing CCTV cameras at railway stations. The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the 2016-17 Budget. The Railways plans to equip 1,000 stations, witnessing high footfall, with CCTV cameras.

For this purpose, Rs 500 crore from the fund has been sanctioned by the Finance Ministry. Railways will spend Rs 50 lakh on installing CCTVs in each of these stations, said Chairman, Railway Board, AK Mittal.

"Detection of crime and prompt investigation in these cases are crucial. We approached the Finance Ministry for monetary assistance and Rs 500 crore has been granted from the Nirbhaya Fund to install CCTV cameras at railway stations," Mittal said.

It is noteworthy that a proposal in this regard was also made by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his Budget speech for the current financial year.

SEVERE CRITICISM

However, the use of fund money to install CCTV cameras has drawn criticism from women rights bodies and activists. They term it a blatant misuse of the Nirbhaya Fund, saying the mere installation of CCTV cameras will not serve the purpose. "This is a clear misuse of Nirbhaya Fund. Instead of splurging money on CCTV cameras for railways, the government should have used the money for the rehabilitation of rape victims and trafficked girls. More fasttrack courts, forensic laboratories and women and child welfare centres should be set up," said Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women.

Maliwal lamented that the Centre had turned down Delhi government's demand of Rs 200 crore for installing CCTV cameras in DTC buses but it granted Rs 500 crore to the railways.

A look into the crime data reported by the Indian Railways also reveals that crime against women is one of the lowest among all categories of offences. In 2014-15, only 97 cases of crime against women were reported by railways while cases like drug smuggling and baggage lifting were the maximum. More than 1,000 cases under these offences were reported during this period.

According to railway officials, the number of CCTV cameras will vary from 200 to 300 at each of the stations. Busy stations like New Delhi, Old Delhi, Mumbai CST, Bhopal, Kanpur and Lucknow require 300 to 350 cameras to put the entire station premises under the CCTV surveillance.

At present, the New Delhi railway station has approximately 150 CCTV cameras while the security agencies have forwarded a demand of additional 200 cameras at the stations.

Ever since it was created in 2013, the Nirbhaya Fund has been lying unused even as crimes against women have been on the rise. In March this year, a parliamentary panel had rapped the Women and Child Development Ministry for letting fund lay idle. It pointed out that the fund had a total of Rs 3,000 crore as Rs 1,000 crore was allocated to it each year from 2013 to 2016. The fund remained unutilised in the first two years, despite proposals being received from various ministries.

The panel, however, said the Ministry of Women and Child Development has not come up with a clear strategy to ensure its proper utilisation. Earlier, a tussle between the Union Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare during the UPA-II regime had resulted in the non-utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund.

The development comes at a time when railways is raising money from private entities for most of its infrastructure projects, including the redevelopment of 400 railway stations. The ministry is also roping in private agencies for augmenting its nonfare revenues by tapping its unused resources like advertisement.

SOURCE - indiatoday

 

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