The Delhi government is planning to deploy home guards or enforcement staff on 3,500-odd Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses that ply between 3 pm and 11 pm - the peak rush hour.
The move by the government comes in the aftermath of the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman on a private bus in south Delhi on December 16 that revealed gaping holes in the safety of public transport after sundown. It also follows the move to deploy guards on buses plying on night service. Since there is a huge rush during evening hours, women travelling in DTC buses are exposed to all sorts of harassments and eve-teasing. The presence of guards is expected to deter anti-social elements from harassing women passengers.
Delhi transport minister Ramakant Goswami on Thursday night flagged off DTC's enhanced night service - from 42 to 89 buses - with home guards deployed on the vehicles.
The routes touch all important junctions in the city, including inter-state bus terminals, airports, railway stations and major hospitals. These buses will have a frequency of 10-50 minutes on different routes. The DTC has requisitioned services of 100 home guards for the night service. These are all non-AC buses.
"We have doubled the number of routes and buses under our night service (11 pm to 4 am). We're studying the response, which seems good at this time. After a week, we will assess the situation and, if needed, increase the routes and buses," Goswami told HT on Friday. A helpline that will enable passengers to register complaints will also be set up.
Goswami admitted there was a staff crunch in the enforcement wing. "We have 140 persons. Of them, 60 sit in the office. We have only 30 teams. But the chief minister has ordered a study on recruitment requirements. The department will soon submit a proposal to recruit retired army personnel or home guards," he said.
"Of the 89 night buses currently operational on night service, 76 are low-floor ones. This allows the drivers to close and open doors. Home guards will take the bus to the nearest police station or chowki in times of distress," the minister said.
Time schedule of the night service is available on DTC website, www.dtc.nic.in.