After several questions being raised on the shoddy usage of Nirbhaya Fund, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Smriti Irani announced on November 2 that the fund will be used to set up women’s help desks in all police stations. She also said that it will be used to build anti-human trafficking units in all districts across the country.

Further, Irani thanked home minister Amit Shah for speedy intervention and for ensuring efficacy in fructifying this kind of the first-ever initiative to be implemented through Nirbhaya Fund” in a tweet. She said that these initiatives will go a long way in addressing the cause of women and children safety issues.

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“I’m grateful that the Home Ministry was quick to not only respond to our suggestion but also helped expedite the administrative procedures required,” Irani told IANS.

“It has long been a need articulated by women and parents across the country, a concern shared by many NGOs that today finds resonance in these two projects. The government under Narendra Bhai (Modi) is committed to strengthening institutional support to help better protect women and children in the country, the resolve of the same is manifested in these projects,” she added.

National Commission for Women (NCW) has also commenced the initiative and tweeted, “@NCWIndia applauds the move. This will help adding another layer to ensure safety and security of women. Thanks to the Home Minister @AmitShahOfficefor the initiative #aurSurakshitHongiMahilayen @sharmarekha @PMOIndia @smritiirani @narendramodi.”

UN Women also commented saying, “We commend the decision made by the Govt. of India, under the leadership of PM @narendramodi, to set up Anti-Human Trafficking Units & Women Help Desks in Police Stations across the country using the Nirbhaya Fund.”

Earlier in February, a parliamentary panel Standing Committee strongly criticised Nirbhaya funds being used for construction purposes. It also said that such utilisation virtually defeats the very purpose of the project – women safety. Between the time period, proposals have been accepted to allocate funds to construct One Stop Centres by WCD Ministry, install CCTV cameras in Railway Stations by railway ministry, create “safe cities” by Ministry of Information Technology, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Home Affairs.

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“I’m grateful that the Home Ministry was quick to not only respond to our suggestion but also helped expedite the administrative procedures required,”

At that time, the parliamentary panel was headed by Congress leader P Chidambaram who had said that the committee strongly believes that funds for the construction of buildings should come from other sources.

In an interview with SheThePeople.TV then, women rights activist Ranjana Kumari had said, “Initially, when we found out that Rs 500 Cr was used to install CCTV cameras in railway stations, we were very shocked. Then in a meeting with WCD minister Maneka Gandhi, she told us that there is nothing like Nirbhaya Fund. There are these allocations which are with the Finance Ministry and every ministry has been asked to send proposals to access that fund and since our ministry has not been able to send a proposal, we haven’t got any allocation.” At that time BJP leader Maneka Gandhi was heading the WCD ministry.

Just a few days ago on October 22, the Karnataka government approved the allocation of Rs 667 crores from the Nirbhaya fund for women’s safety in the state. The state will take initiatives including over 16,000 surveillance cameras and GIS-based crime mapping for predictive policing resulting in increased safety in public spaces for women.

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