CHENNAI: We may have to wait a year more to get the panic buttons in the public transport vehicles. The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has extended the deadline to April 1, 2019 to fit the GPS-enabled panic buttons. The buttons are aimed to help passengers get immediate help from police during any emergencies.
On November 28, 2016, the Central government had amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules mandating all public transport vehicles, like buses and cabs, to compulsorily have the panic buttons to be eligible to get registered from April 1, 2018. But since many States, including Tamil Nadu, still could not put in place a control room mechanism for the alerts from the panic buttons, the union ministry has now extended the deadline by a year more. The notification to this effect was issued by the ministry on Saturday.
"The existing infrastructure not sufficient to link the panic buttons. A proposal has been sent to the State government to set up a dedicated control room to handle the alerts from the panic buttons," said a senior transport official.
Around 5,000 OLA cabs running in the city do have these panic buttons, which the cab aggregator installed a few months ago. But the buttons were useless since the state has no mechanism to monitor the alerts raised by the passengers. "The button was installed behind the driver seat on the top of the car. However, it never used by any commuters," said J Ramanujam, president of Thozhargal Car Ottunargal Amaippu Sara Thozhirsangam Even when Express pressed the panic buttons, none responded.
Following the relaxation of the deadline by the union government, the state transport department has now instructed the regional transport offices to insist only on the GPS tracking device, not the panic buttons. Earlier, the department had instructed the regional transport offices not to register vehicles without the panic buttons and the GPS devices from April 1.
According to transport department official note, as on April 1st 2016, there are as many as 2,00,462 public transport vehicles. This includes 22,646 government buses, 7,861 private buses, 4,218 minibuses and 932 omnibuses. Other vehicles covered under this category are call taxis, tourist taxis, school and college buses.
However, autos, share autos, Tata magic share autos and e-rickshaws are not covered under this category.