The UPA government announced the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ in the 2013-14 budget with an initial corpus of 1000 crore rupees, to be spent on women safety initiatives. This was one of the outcomes of massive public outcry after the Delhi Rape incident. Since then, 2000 crores have been added to the fund through 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets. But even with Rs 3000 crore to spend and 2 years of time, there is hardly any progress on ground. Not a single project has taken off and they are still in the deliberation stage.
The gruesome Delhi rape incident triggered quite a few policy changes. Apart from the Nirbhaya act, Ministry of Finance, Government of India has established ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ with an initial corpus of Rs. 1000 crore as per the budget announcement in 2013-14. The fund is to be used for women safety pertaining to the strategic areas of prevention, protection and rehabilitation. In subsequent years (2014-15 & 2015-16), an amount of Rs 1000 crore has been provided under this fund. Hence the total amount available is Rs 3000 crore. So how exactly is this money being used?
What is this fund and who controls it?
‘Nirbhaya Fund’ has been created to ensure dignity and safety of girl children and women. Nirbhaya Fund has been created as a corpus in the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA). As and when the schemes from Ministries/Departments are approved to be funded from ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ suitable allocations are done accordingly. A total amount of Rs.3,000 crore has been allocated to Nirbhaya Fund in the year 2013-2014, 2014-15 and 2015-16.
As per the existing guidelines, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has been assigned as the nodal Ministry to utilize this fund. This nodal ministry can be approached by various Ministries/Departments or states with their proposals to be funded from Nirbhaya Fund. The nodal ministry is also in charge for the review and monitoring the progress of the schemes sanctioned under the fund. The Nodal Ministry will decide on the suitability of the proposal and refer the same to Department of Economic Affairs.
Has the Ministry received any proposal?
The ministry received proposals from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH). The Women and Child Development ministry (MWCD) also mooted a proposal.
Ministry of Home Affairs: MHA has envisaged the establishment of an integrated Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) platform for supporting Geographical Information System (GIS) based Call Taking and Global Positioning System (GPS) based Police vehicle dispatch function that will help to improve the efficiency in responding to women distress calls and provide speedy assistance. The Project is to be implemented in 114 identified cities, which includes 54 cities having a population of more than one million, cities which are the capitals of the States/UTs as well as headquarters of 41 highly crime prone districts. The project involves a total expenditure of Rs. 321.69 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal in February 2014 and sanctioned a total of Rs. 321.69 crore out of the Nirbhaya Fund. But there is nothing to show in terms of progress on ground.
West Bengal has the highest number of cities/districts (15) that will be covered under this project followed by Rajasthan(10), Andhra Pradesh (9), Kerala (8), Uttar Pradesh (8) and Telangana (7).
Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways: MoRTH is setting up of a unified system at the National Level (National Vehicle Security and Tracking System) and State level (City Command and Control Centre) for GPS tracking of the location of emergency buttons and video recording of incidents in public transport vehicles. In the first phase, 32 cities of 13 States in the country with a population of 1 million or more will be covered. Total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 1404.68 crore.
Ministry of Women and Child Development: MWCD also proposed two schemes i.e One Stop Centre for Women affected by violence with a total project cost of Rs. 18.58 crore and Scheme for Universalisation of Women Helpline with a total project cost Rs. 69.49 crore.
States & UTs: No State or UT sent a proposal except Karnataka & Kerala.
- Deployment of police vehicles at Girls colleges, Schools, Outside metro Stations and places prone to teasing / harassment of women and chain snatching
- Deployment of NGO volunteers round the clock at women’s helpdesks in Police Stations
- Special Advertisement campaigns to educate women on their safety Programs for women’s safety by Special Police Unit for Women and Children and districts
- An 8 – point step-by-step detail of the initiative has been submitted at an estimated cost of Rs. 94.99 crores
- Creation of a State Nirbhaya Committee (SNC) to formulate guidelines, directions and general superintendence of the project.
- Creation of Nirbhaya District Committees (NDC) at the district Head Quarters for co-ordination and control at district level.
- Commitment of State Government that all the man power except the Project Manager and volunteers to implement this Scheme will be drawn from the State Police and hence no expenses are required for the smooth implementation of the project.
- This project is intended to have a 4-pronged approach to create awareness and deter crime against women across the State and has an estimated cost of Rs. 192.095 crores
Both these proposals are yet to be approved by the MWCD.
Has any money been allocated?
An amount of Rs.150 crore has been allocated to MHA for the scheme to increase the safety of women in large cities (Schemes on backend integration of distress signal from victims with mobile vans and control rooms) and Rs. 50 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on pilot testing of scheme (Safety for Women on Public Road Transport). Both these allocations were made in 2014-15.
The proposals of the MWCD have also been approved to be funded from the financial year 2015-16.
What is the status of implementation?
There has been delay in the implementation of the project of MHA. Only preparatory activities have been initiated. A Project Management consultant has been appointed and discussions with States/UTs have been initiated. Other than this, there is no physical progress though the project was approved almost one and a half years ago.
A contract has been signed between MoRTH and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit Systems Ltd (DIMTS) to provide Project Management Consultancy for implementation of the project. Consultations have been started with the beneficiary States/ UTs in a phased manner for informing them the details of the Scheme and action required on their part for timely implementation of the Scheme. Like the MHA Project, there is little or no progress on ground.
The only swift progress is seen in the scheme floated by the MWCD. So far, sanction orders have been issued to 14 States/UTs to establish the one stop centers.
On the whole, there is very little progress on ground and there is hardly anything to show in terms of results. Unless these are expedited and are taken on a war footing, Women Safety will remain a dream for more years to come.