New Delhi: Sixteen states and Union territories Tuesday joined a pan-India network of single emergency helpline number '112' on which immediate assistance can be sought by anyone in distress.
The 112 helpline is an integration of police (100), fire (101) and women (1090) helpline numbers. The health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon.
Launching the '112' helpline, under the the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS), Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the central government is committed to the safety of citizens, particularly women, for whom laws were changed to ensure the guilty is punished in a time-bound manner.
"The helpline number '112' will be activated across the country by next year and anyone in distress can reach the helpline by pressing a single key of phones which will be pre-programmed," he said.
The 16 states and UTs are Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Jammu and Kashmir.
The '112' helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
To access emergency services, a person can dial '112' on a phone or press the power button of a smart phone three times quickly to send a panic call to the Emergency Response Centre.
In case of a normal phone, a long press of the '5' or '9' key will activate the panic call.
People can also log onto the ERSS website for the respective state and send an emergency email or SOS alert to state ERC. They can use '112' India mobile app, which is available free on Google Play Store and Apple Store.
The single number for emergency services is similar to '911' in the United States.
Apart from launching the ERSS, the home minister also kicked off, the Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) and the safe city implementation monitoring portal.
The ITSSO is meant for law enforcement agencies in the country.
The system is an online module available to law enforcement agencies at all levels national, state, district and police station and allows the state to undertake real-time monitoring and management for completion of investigation in rape cases in two months.
It leverages the existing CCTNS data base, which covers nearly 15,000 police stations in the country.
The ITSSO would greatly strengthen the ability of states for analytics and prognosis for timely investigation and prosecution in rape cases.
The home minister said safe city implementation monitoring portal will instil a sense of security in women in metro cities.
"The government has identified eight cities for implementation of safe city projects in first phase at a cost of Rs 2,919 crore. The cities are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai. The projects are funded under Nirbhaya Fund scheme," he said.