Current Status: Nirbhaya Fund

Nirbhaya fund was announced with a corpus of Rs.1000 crore by the UPA government after the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape incident. The fund was expected to be used by the government and NGOs to run initiatives aimed at protecting the dignity and safety of women in India. Since then, in every budget Rs.1,000 crore has been allocated to the fund. Two schemes were proposed under the fund, viz. Scheme for safety of women on public road transport under the ambit of roads and transport ministry and one another project under home ministry. But none of the schemes have really taken off.

Present status

Since the time the fund was set up, the fund remains unspent and unused. With rise in cases of sexual harassment and crimes against women there is a crying need for implementation of such funds. For instance, the idea of creating one-stop crisis centre to promote easier access to medical aid, police assistance, legal help and psychological counselling remains only in paper. In May 2016, the Supreme Court also condemned the government keeping idle Rs. 3,000 crore national women’s safety fund.

Way forward

Government should improve coordination between the ministries for speedier implementation of projects under the schemes of this nature. Delay caused by lengthy inert-ministerial coordination must not be allowed to compromise women’s safety. The Government and legislators must act proactively on delivering equality and security to women.