Rail budget 2015: Suresh Prabhu prioritises women safety in rail budget

New Delhi: Giving priority to women's safety, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu Thursday announced the utilisation of resources from the Nirbhaya Fund by Indian Railways, adding that surveillance cameras would be provided in select coaches.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

Presenting his maiden Railway Budget 2015-16 in parliament here, Prabhu also announced a dedicated toll-free number, 182, for receiving any security-related complaints.

"Indian Railways would utilise resources from the Nirbhaya Fund for augmenting security of women passengers... For the safety of women passengers, surveillance cameras will be provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without compromising on privacy," he said.

Additionally, an all-India helpline number, 138, would become functional to attend to the problems of passengers on a real time basis.

"A mobile application to redress Railway-related complaints is also being developed...The railways intends to start this facility on a pilot project basis on Northern Railway from March 1. Based on the experience gained and the feedback received from passengers, this will be extended to all Railways soon thereafter," he said.

Prabhu also said that the middle berth, in three-tier class, would be reserved for women and senior citizens.

Women commuters however hoped that the measures are implemented well and culprits taken to task.

Sumaire Hassan, while welcoming the announcement, hoped the follow-up will be quick.

"It is a good thing that the government is finally taking such initiatives for our security. But, I wonder how much following up they will do. Incidents happen despite cameras being installed at public places. I hope they actually follow up and all this doesn't remain just on paper," said the 28-year-old media professional.

Manjiri Indurkar, a college student, while acknowledging the need for increased security, was not certain if such surveillance was the answer.

"I think it is necessary to increase security measures for women in the trains. I don't know how handy surveillance cameras are going to be. I think they will be intrusive and will make people uncomfortable.

"Also, how can I be sure that visuals caught on camera, and there will be quite a few, won't be misused? I don't think it will be a pleasant experience," Indurkar, 27, told IANS.

What concerns me more is the reaction time that will be required to a situation that will raise an alarm. What happens after the camera catches a woman getting raped/molested/assaulted?"

Vidhi Narang, a college student, said: "Fellow passengers pass lewd comments and at times they cross limits as well, especially during the night. But my question is how they will be nabbed? Will any security person be available in the train?”.

Seema Kohli, 75, isn't happy with the announcement that the middle berth has been reserved for women.

“I am an old woman, and for me lower berth is the best. I have always found the middle berth claustrophobic. Women should be given an option between the upper and lower berth. I personally feel that the upper berth is safer for young girls and women,” Kohli told IANS.

Sakshi Mehra, an IT professional, said as a student she used to travel a lot by train, but has stopped it now.

"One reason, obviously is bad train food and dirty loos. The other reason is security. Not just for myself, but also for my luggage and other valuables. Having surveillance cameras would definitely make me feel a lot safer travelling by trains, as it would deter shady characters from doing anything."

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