volvo bangalore bus
volvo bangalore busWikimedia Commons

Public buses with seating capacity of 23 or more will have CCTV cameras, panic buttons and Vehicle Tracking Systems (VTS) after June, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday. He launched 20 Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation buses fitted with the IT-enabled safety measures. The initiative is undertaken under the NIRBHAYA scheme, launched after the death of a paramedical student who was gangraped in Delhi in December 2012.

Certain unfortunate incidents in the past have forced the road transport ministry to take this step, so that women travelling in buses are safe, Gadkari was quoted as saying in a statement by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. 

"We issued a draft notification on May 2 to amend the central motor vehicle rules, making the installation of safety devices (on buses) mandatory. We hope to finalise the notification by June," Gadkari was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

Buses with less than 23 seats will have to be fitted with panic buttons and VTS, the Union minister said on Wednesday. 

Buses would also be manufactured with the IT-enabled safety measures in the future, he added. 

Pressing the panic button would send a distress signal to "a centralised control room and help will be sent," a road transport ministry official was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. The states will be responsible for execution of the project while the funding will be provided from the NIRBHAYA fund. 

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said that the initiative should include trains, while adding that these safety measures will help in rescuing kidnapped children.

Chairperson of National Commission for Women Lalitha Kumar Mangalam, who was also present at the launch of the Rajasthan transport buses, said that the government should publicise the initiatives, and these measures would enable women to travel safely at night.

The decision to include panic buttons in phones was also taken last month as a measure to improve women's safety in the country.