New Delhi: The brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old here has brought to focus the failure of the Sheila Dikshit government in keeping its long-pending promise of safe public transport system for women and children though she has tried to pass the buck to the Centre for the tragedy.
The city government had made a series of announcements in three years to regulate the transport system by a slew of steps like mandatory installation of GPS on autorickshaws, taxis and DTC buses as also tougher norms for plying of school buses and erecting electronic information boards on all bus stops.
But none of them has been implemented so far.
The Delhi transport department had decided to erect electronic information board in over 1,000 designated bus stops to give a real time details about arrival of the buses but this decision never saw the light of the day.
While hiking taxi and auto fares by 35 percent in 2010, the government had made it mandatory for auto drivers to install GPS in their vehicles to monitor their movement. The government had added a component in the hiked fare to help the autorickshaw owners install the device but till today around 55,000 autorickshaws are plying in the city without GPS.
Since December 2010, Delhi government had terminated permit of nearly 3,000 Blueline buses following public outcry over series of fatal incidents involving them. But some operators are plying the buses unauthorisedly across the city after painting them white.
Dikshit while talking about the brutal gang-rape of the girl had said that the "buck stops" with the Police Commissioner and the Lt Governor for law and order in the city and suggested that her hands are tied.
"The entire transport system is run by Delhi Government. The incident had happened on a moving bus. We have to regulate our transport system. How can the Chief Minister abdicate the responsibility," said Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta.
Repeated attempts to contact Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami and Transport Commissioner Rajendra Kumar did not fructify.
Gupta alleged that the Chief Minister was trying to deflect responsibility to the Centre though her government was responsible for the "loopholes" in the transport system.
"The Delhi government is also responsible for the tragic incident along with the police. However, Dikshit is trying her best to show that Delhi government has nothing to do with the incident," said Gupta.
To augment public transport, the government had launched the ambitious cluster bus service in last year involving corporate entities and had promised to take the size of fleet to over 2,000 by 2012 but so far around 300 vehicles are plying under the scheme.
Last year, the government had planned to install CCTV cameras onboard all DTC buses but nothing has happened so far in this regard as well.
According to existing norms, all drivers of public transport vehicles must carry a public service vehicle (PSV) issued by the transport department but officials admit that majority of the drivers are driving buses, autos and taxis without having it.
In 2010, the Delhi government had decided to issue smart card-based PSVs but that project was also not implemented effectively. The chip on the smart card PSV contains various information about holder of PSV like address, license number and police verification details.
Following death of a class-X student in a freak incident, Delhi government in August had directed all schools under it to strictly follow the Supreme Court guidelines on plying of school buses and prescribed certain new norms to ensure safety of students using school transport. But as per officials of Delhi government the directions have not been followed by most of the schools.
As per the directive, all schools were required to finalise a route plan for their buses and the route plan, along with the list of children travelling by buses and designated bus stops, should be submitted to the traffic police by August 15.
The government had also asked the schools to appoint a conductor with a valid licence by September 30 in addition to the attendant. But slack enforcement has resulted flouting of the directions by the schools.
The Supreme Court had set specific guidelines for plying of school buses which included fitting of horizontal grills on windows of the vehicles.