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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Fewer calls to helpline mean better service

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 18, 2013
First Published: 00:16 IST(18/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:48 IST(18/1/2013)

Till the last count, more than 59,000 calls were made to the Delhi government’s helpline for women, 181, launched on December 31 last year.

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During the initial days, many calls couldn’t be received because of the sheer volume — around 10,000 per day. The number has now come down to 12-1,500 per day.

This has increased the percentage of calls being attended — from 20%  in the initial days to 75% now.

While most of the earlier calls pertained to non-relevant issues such as property disputes, power cuts and unauthorised construction, callers are now more forthcoming and complaining about stalking, which tops the list of complaints, and domestic violence.

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“To make sure the helpline does not turn out to be a mere call-forwarding service, we have sought action-taken reports from the police and other departments such as women’s commission, legal services authorities or women and child development department to know what happened to the calls forwarded to them,” said a senior Delhi government official. 

“This is being done to ensure accountability. We want to make sure the calls we forward are taken seriously and lead to concrete action on the ground,” he said.

“The move is expected to add some teeth to the exercise as the Delhi police does not report to the Delhi government. The follow-up will ensure that calls are addressed properly,” he said.

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who had announced the helpline after the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on December 16, will on Tuesday review its functioning and response.

“Because of a new caller tune (Welcome to the chief minister’s women support service. Face the situation courageously) the number of non-relevant calls has come down considerably,” the official said. 

As of now, about 75% calls are being attended as all callers cannot get through when the three 24x7, toll-free lines are busy.

But in case of call drop, the helpline staff has been told to call back.

Roped in from NGOs and trained to counsel callers, the all-woman call attending staff has replaced male operators and works in three shifts - from 8am to 4pm, 4pm to midnight and from midnight to 8am. There are three batches of one supervisor and three call attendants each.


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