Not enough Home Guards for Delhi buses

Not enough Home Guards for Delhi buses

4,500 DTC and 400 cluster buses pose a challenge, minister says looking at most feasible option

After deploying Home Guards aboard 89 night buses in the national capital, Delhi government's plan to extend the service to all evening buses seems to have hit a roadblock. Senior government officials said while Home Guards aboard the night buses posed no logistical problems, deploying a Home Guard in each of 4,500 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and 400 cluster buses was a challenge.

It was following the gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedic student who succumbed to injuries on Saturday in a moving bus on December 16 that the Delhi government announced special night service buses with a Home Guard in each bus.

However, just days after the service was announced, a bus conductor was arrested after he allegedly harassed a 16-year-old girl in a cluster bus, prompting the Delhi government to consider Home Guards in evening buses as well.

But the high number of buses plying in the evening between 2 pm and 11 pm poses a logistical challenge. Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami told Newsline that at least 4,700 DTC buses and 400 cluster buses were operational every evening, while the sanctioned strength of Home Guards in Delhi is just above 10,000. "Home Guards in every evening bus means the deployment of at least 5,000 Home Guards. At the moment, we are trying to determine the most feasible option," Goswami said.

Senior officials in the Delhi government said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday met Delhi Home Guards Director General, Dr Aditya Arya, to discuss logistics. Incidentally, on December 29, a Home Guard aboard a night bus was found sleeping on duty, following which he was sacked.

According to Goswami, Home Guards on evening buses were part of the second phase of increasing security and safety of women in buses. "In the first phase we started with the 89 night buses, and deployed a Home Guard in each. In the next phase, we are considering CCTV cameras in the buses, GPS systems and Home Guards in evening buses as well," the minister said.

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