By Ila Ananya
The Indian Railways have been allocated a share of the Nirbhaya fund that has otherwise gone unused for the last four years. And how is a whopping 500 crore of it going to be used? Surprise surprise, for CCTVs.
Installing CCTVs in railways stations and for Ladies Special trains happens to be an already ongoing scheme. Of course there were less funds available so nobody could go straight into this “composite security plan” as it was being called. The plan has been on for eight years, and in all this time, CCTVs have been installed in 344 of the 7500 railway stations across India.
Back in 2014, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had announced that a total of Rs 2000 crore would be used for the Nirbhaya fund (created to deal with several questions about women’s safety) that hadn’t already been used for a year. Either way, in January this year, it also became obvious that the NDA government hadn’t really come up with any successfully implemented schemes.
This time, it seems like when the government has finally decided to use the funds, they’ve released it for surveillance and CCTVs. This isn’t new, because it simply goes back to the various proposals that the Ministry of Finance had on how to use the money. As Revati Laul had reported, it was mainly to set up control rooms to handle calls from women in distress, and install CCTVs and GPS in public transport systems. But we can’t help but wonder again—why is the government only thinking of safety along the lines of surveillance instead of more than this? What about the fact that our police forces are ill staffed and don’t always know how to deal with cases of sexual violence?
When the fund was first announced, Chidambaram had also said it would look to support NGOs that are working on issues of women’s safety. However, reportedly, none of these NGOs have been given these funds.
So while the government firstly never seems to use the Nirbhaya fund, all they continue to come up with is installing CCTVs with Rs 500 crores. We’re wondering whose chacha is going to benefit from these massive contracts. We know it’s certainly not women. After all, even the One Stop Centres that are supposed to have been set up with the Nirbhaya fund haven’t materialised, and they’d be much more helpful than more surveillance, as if we don’t have enough of that already.