The National Commission for Women (NCW) has discontinued its pilot project launched here in June 2012 to start a country-wide toll-free helpline number to help women in distress and to provide key information to them.
The NCW had launched this pilot project for the first time in the country and chosen Ahmedabad Womens Action Group (AWAG) to run it.
However,the grants from NCW for the project stopped since October 2012 and AWAGs attempt to keep the helpline afloat on its own did not last beyond January 2013.
AWAG president Ilaben Pathak says the toll-free service was attracting wide response as this was widely advertised throughout the state through TV and newspapers. We were getting around 600 calls on this number (1800 232 2222) and the total number of calls touched 12,887 in six months of its operation,out of which 1,666 were complaints and the rest were for seeking some or other information, said Pathak.
The Commission stopped grants to run this service abruptly in October 2012 and our three letters to NCW chairperson seeking reasons for this have gone unanswered so far, said Pathak.
We pulled along till the end of 2012 but it was proving costly and we discontinued it in December last, she said.
The number of phone calls coming to us since January this year has gone down drastically from around 500 per week to just 50 calls a month,thanks to callers having to pay for the calls, she added.
We did not even think that instead of being spread in other states,this service would be discontinued, she said,adding that NCW also asked AWAG to return all computers and other things when it decided to stop it.
NCW member Dr Charu Walikhanna told The Indian Express that the project would not be abandoned but being a pilot project,it could not go on beyond a period.
We have got the feedback,which is currently being analysed. Based on the analysis,we will prepare our recommendations and submit it to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, said Walikhanna.
AWAG secretary Sara Baldiwala said that once a thing like toll-free helpline was launched,it raised a lot of hopes among women and so it need not be stopped abruptly.