Wednesday, June 16

Finally, Nirbhaya Fund to be used for a safer Kolkata

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The state has so far hardly utilized the Rs 76-crore Nirbhaya Fund sanctioned over the past six years, but the government—Kolkata Police in particular—is now set to spend a major chunk of it to boost the city’s security under the “Safe City” project.

“It is a fact that merely Rs 3.9 crore has been spent from Rs 25 crore that had reached us earlier. The rest of the Rs 50 crore allotted to state reached us much later, closer to the second half of this year,” said a state home department official. But the state has now readied the women’s safety scheme for the city, for which the money will be used. This year, for the first time, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had sent a team to attend the meetings of the ministry of home affairs, where the members suggested Safe City as one of the proposals for the utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund. According to the ministry, apart from Kolkata, seven cities—New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow—have finalised their plans under Nirbhaya Fund.

Police commissioner Anuj Sharma recently highlighted some of the areas, where they looked to use the money. Installing CCTV cameras near educational institutions and setting up mobile toilets for women near markets and busy neighbourhoods were some of the projects. “We are serious about ensuring safety for women. We have planned CCTV surveillance of strategic points near schools, colleges and busy intersections. We have also decided to introduce mobile toilets for women near markets and in busy neighbourhoods,” Sharma recently said. An official pointed out that the expenditure for Safe City had been estimated at Rs 181 crore between 2018 and 2021.

The government wants to use a part of the fund in strengthening the victim-compensation mechanism, for which it has reportedly started allocating money. “The small amount that Bengal has so far spent from Nirbhaya Fund has been to pay compensation to rape and trafficking victims,” said Rishikant from the NGO Shakti Vahini.

Highlighting the importance of men respecting women and their equal rights, cops plan to start a sensitization programme in boys’ and coed schools. “We plan to extend a sensitization programme, Respect Women, at boys’ and coed schools,” Sharma said.

“We are coming up with a sophisticated cyber crime probe lab for better detection and investigation of online crimes against women and girls,” said another senior officer at Kolkata Police. It is one area that the Centre has reportedly been prodding the metropolitan police forces to invest more money from the Nirbhaya Fund.

Source: Times of India

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