Indian buses
India to install CCTV cameras and emergency buttons in public buses across the country to ensure the safety of women passengers. [File photo] REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

More than three years after the horrific gang rape of a Delhi girl on a bus, the Indian government has announced steps to prevent such incidents from happening. Panic buttons and CCTV cameras are to be compulsorily fitted in all public buses to ensure safety of women commuters in the country.

The move follows the government's decision that all mobile phones sold in India from 2017 must come with a panic button, which a woman in an emergency situation should be able to activate just at the press of a single key.

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the new measures would come into effect on 2 June.

Referring to the December 2012 brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in South Delhi which led to her death, and sparked a national outrage over women's safety, Gadkari told the media: "To ensure the safety of women after the unfortunate incident, we have decided to make it mandatory for public transport buses to install emergency panic buttons, CCTV cameras and GPS-enabled vehicle tracking devices."

He flagged off 20 such buses that would run between the western state of Rajasthan and the capital city of New Delhi as part of a pilot project.

The panic button will be placed in front of every seat, and the moment a distressed woman presses the button, it will signal a centralised control room, from where immediate help will be sent, the Hindustan Times reported. Local police and the transport department will also receive the alert, with the GPS system enabling them in locating the bus, while the CCTV camera footage will help in catching the perpetrators.

Gadkari said the government will collect biometric details of all bus drivers and conductors too.

All existing buses are to be fitted with the safety equipment while the government has pressed for bus manufactures to ensure their new buses come equipped with the latest safety features.