Delhi Metro Caught Napping on women’s safety

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Risk not worth taking The absence of CCTV cameras puts women’s safety in peril, Photo: AFP
Risk not worth taking The absence of CCTV cameras puts women’s safety in peril, Photo: AFP

Women’s security has undoubtedly been the most talked-about issue ever since the Nirbhaya gang-rape that shook the country in 2012.

Among many suggestions for tighter security and better safety, installation of CCTV cameras in public places, buses and Metro trains was also given prime importance. One of the widely discussed poll promises of the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi was to install CCTV cameras in all nook and cranny of the national capital. Ever since the gang-rape, various stakeholders, including the government, NGOs, and the public, have recommended measures to tighten women’s safety across the country, especially in Delhi.

But, it has come to light that over 60 trains under Delhi Metro do not have CCTV cameras. The DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation), which operates Delhi Metro, didn’t respond to the email query regarding the same. But, its spokesman confirmed that there are no cameras in the old coaches of Delhi Metro. “Those trains were procured in the first phase of Delhi Metro and there were no proposal for CCTV camera then. Also, no coaches came with CCTV cameras then, but all the new trains have it,” says Tomojit Bhattacharjee, spokesperson of DMRC . “We have already installed more than 5,000 CCTV cameras across Delhi Metro’s network and we are only trying to improve it,” Bhattacharjee adds. Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai was unavailable for comment.

Delhi Metro caters to over 27 lakh passengers daily and has a fleet of around 200 trains. Meanwhile, Saurabh Bhardwaj, transport minister in the first 49-day government of AAP, said he was not aware that there were no CCTV cameras in some of the Metro trains. “I thought all Metro trains had CCTV cameras. The issue never came for discussion during my brief tenure. Moreover, the DMRC is more or less an independent body and can take such decisions on its own. We would have definitely initiated the process of installing CCTV cameras had the issue come up then. We had done the same in case of DTC buses,” says Bhardwaj.

While the Metro officials say that CCTV cameras are inbuilt in trains, it is interesting to note that Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has started the process of installing them in its buses. “If DTC can put cameras in its buses, why can’t the Metro authorities do it? It’s only going to strengthen the security system,” says Anukriti Banyal, a daily Metro commuter.

Rahul Pandey, a Civil Services aspirant who uses Metro to commute to his coaching centre, says:
“It is a major security loophole. I didn’t even know about it. I thought all Metro trains are under CCTV surveillance. It’s a far bigger threat than just women’s security.”

Meanwhile, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles the security of Delhi Metro, says it is DMRC’s responsibility to install CCTV cameras inside the trains. “I don’t think there is any reason to worry about it. It has been running since years and nothing has happened. Moreover, it is
DMRC’s responsibility to install cameras inside the trains. We have no such proposal,” says Hemendra Singh, spokesman of CISF. Delhi Metro has one coach reserved for women passengers in each train.

It is also important to note that Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had also announced in his first budget that a part of Nirbhaya Fund will be used to install CCTV cameras in women’s coaches.

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