The much-hyped Centre’s helpline number for women in distress —181— is yet to be operational in the state. Despite the government having made the announcement in June, the project has failed to take off due to lack of funds allotted for the same.
The helpline number was announced post the Delhi rape incident in 2012 and all states were told to follow suit. The state had taken up the initiative earlier this year but with no communication from the Centre, the project remains on paper. The former Congress government at the Centre had announced the initiative and the BJP government is yet to give it the push, said senior officials from the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry in the state government. “The proposed project amounting to Rs 85 lakh was put forward by the state government to the Centre.
We have been told that the project should be implemented and fund allocations would come in. However, with no direction, we are yet to commence the trial-run in the state,” said a senior official from the state’s Women and Child Commissionerate office in Pune.
The project was to initially have a trial-run with either two or six districts. The state’s Information Technology department was to assist with the IT part and the Women and Child Development Department was to implement the project. “The file has moved from the WCD to the IT department. An organisation was approached where eight officials were given training for the helpline services by YASHADA in Pune. However, unless we receive the funds, we cannot move forward,”said the state women and child development official.
The state wanted to replicate the helpline number and the WCD had listed the same as the key result areas for 2015-16. “With the state already cash strapped for funds, whether or not we will receive the Centre’s support or the state will have to invest on its own is something that needs to be be sorted out by the WCD with the Centre,”stated another official.
With a delay of already six months and no communication yet, it seems quite unlikely that the project will take off any time soon. In 2012, post the December rape incident, the then telecom minister Kapil Sibal had intimated all the chief ministers to allocate the three digit number to all states so that it can be made a national helpline for women.
According to the Centre’s directives, the state governments were required to set up their own call centres and merge their infrastructure across the states.
The Central government’s directive was to have a uniform response system that will reach out to the caller from anywhere in the country and provide help immediately. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the states that have taken the project forward.