Last mile connectivity in Ghaziabad and Noida is a distant dream. Women who travel late at night sometimes have to cope with nefarious drivers and co-passengers in shared autorickshaws. They constantly fear harassment while travelling, even during the day.
Women living in Noida have to depend on autorickshaws and private buses to reach their destination due to lack of metro connectivity to most areas in Noida and Greater Noida. Finding a safe mode of transport is a daily challenge for most women who return from work late at night.
23-year-old Arti Sinha, who lives in Sector 46 and works with a private company in Connaught Place, Delhi, says she has never felt safe while taking an autorickshaw from Noida City Centre to her home around 9.30pm every day. Her fear turned into reality when an auto driver harassed her.
“One day, I left late from office and reached the Noida City Centre Metro station around 10.30pm. An auto driver agreed to drop me to Sector 46, which is 5km away, at a charge of Rs 150. When I got down from the auto and gave him a `500 note, he refused to return the balance. When I asked him to return the money, he caught me by the arm and pulled me inside the auto. I was so frightened, I ran towards my house,” said Sinha.
Women in Noida avoid going out late in the night or only venture out when accompanied by a male companion.
Despite Sector 18 being the city’s biggest commercial hub, women feel unsafe while walking in the area alone. “The only light is from the shops and it gets dark when they shut down. One time when I was returning home after having dinner in Sector 18, some boys in a speeding car passed lewd comments and threw a bottle of beer out of the window. I had a narrow escape. When I tried looking for help, I could not find a single police officer in the area,” said Meenakshi Singh (name changed), a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase 1, Delhi.
WORSE IN GHAZIABAD
The situation is worse in Ghaziabad as most of the streets are poorly lit. Annushree Daspa, who works at a private firm in Laxmi Nagar in Delhi says she feels unsafe taking shared autorickshaws at 9.30pm, while returning to her home in Vasundhara.
“Co-passengers in a shared auto intentionally sit next to you and deliberately try to touch you. If I try to raise my voice or complain, all I get to hear is that I should not be travelling in a shared auto if it bothers me,” said Daspa, 27.
Since the autorickshaw does not drop her at her door step, Daspa has to walk home. On her way, she has to encounter clusters of men at tobacco shops who observe her every movement. “It is a nightmare to pass such joints where men pass lewd comments. I am planning to buy my own vehicle so I don’t have to go through such an ordeal daily,” she said.
Parking lots of shopping malls were equipped with security guards and CCTV surveillance, only after reports of a gang rape at a prominent mall in Vaishali in 2012.
However, the recently constructed multilevel parking facility at the Vaishali Metro station is yet to get an electricity connection. “The upper floors of the facility is deserted as there are no security guards after 7pm. Neither the parking area nor the staircase has any lights and it gets pitch dark even in the day time since it is closed from all sides. The elevators do not work and we have to take the stairs,” said Keerti Thilakan, a resident of Ahinsa Khand-2, Indirapuram.