More than a month has passed since the panic button was launched by the State Government on the occasion of the Girl Child Day on January 24. Nearly 100 panic buttons were distributed during the event to selected beneficiaries in four districts-Dehradun, Haridwar, Tehri, and Pauri. It was also stated that the Government will facilitate subsidy through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity to lower the price of the button in the State. However, the ground reality is that neither has the panic button been practically useful for females nor will it be easy to provide it to more girls and women across the State as officially claimed by the Government.
Uttarakhand is considered to be among the safest States in India considering the rate of crimes. However, the State Government decided to distribute panic buttons to girls and women for use during emergencies and gender crime scenario. More than a month after the panic buttons were distributed only a couple of calls have been received by the authorities and those too were queries related to purchasing the panic button. So far not one of the 100 beneficiaries provide panic buttons have used the button in a panic situation. The calls received so far were result of the beneficiaries mistakenly pressing the button.
However the State minister for Women and Child Welfare, Rekha Arya said, “The report we have received about the distributed panic buttons has been good so far. Women and girls have used the panic button mistakenly or sometimes like a drill and it has been working nicely. One can state that by god’s grace nothing bad has happened to any of our beneficiaries.”
Adding more to this Arya said, “The panic buttons will be on trial for a period of six months after which we will likely bring it with a subsidy.”
It should be mentioned here that the market price of the button is Rs 2,360 which after subsidy may come down to about Rs 1,600. Observers state that involving CSR activity and bringing it with subsidy makes it time consuming process. Even after subsidy, Rs 1,600 remains a considerable amount for many which makes it impractical for a majority to buy the panic button.
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