Kottayam's 'Sahayathrika' women-safety project remains a non-starter

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The information board, which should help women travelling at night, is kept outside the Kottayam Railway Station. Photo: Sajesh Mohan/Onmanorama

Kottayam: The 'Sahayathrika' project, launched two months ago by the Kottayam Police and the district panchayat, to ensure the safety of women travelling late at night, has failed to take off due to poor promotion, say autorickshaw drivers. Intended to help women find vehicles from the station without much wait, the initiative also brought many autorickshaw drivers onboard. Their names, vehicles and phone numbers were also displayed on a board. But drivers point out that they barely received a call or two from women who wanted rides since the project was launched. The board displaying the participating drivers' information is installed outside Kottayam railway station premises and not many would venture out to the road at night, they say.

Jaimon Joseph, who is part of the project, said lack of promotion is hurting a good initiative. "The (display) board is erected outside the station. Women who reach Kottayam at night won't see it. Moreover, the administration hasn't promoted this project at all; so (practically) nobody knows about it. Since the inauguration, no one has called us to check how it's performing. At least, the authorities should keep the information board on the station premises,” he told Onmanorama.

Bijumon Mathew, another driver part of the initiative, said he pointed this out to a few cops. "I told a few officers about the board's placement when they hired me. They know it but they just smiled it away. Not surprising because they may not be in a position to communicate this to their higher-ups."

To promote the initiative, display boards with numbers should be kept near the ticket counters, the inquiry booth and on platforms. "If it's not displayed anywhere else inside the station, there is no point sticking this info board on our vehicles," he said. Kottayam SP K Karthick, however, said the initiative has received a positive response so far. "It is getting a good response and is coming in handy for women and children who travel to Kottayam, especially from outside of the district." He said he was unaware of the autorickshaw drivers' feedback. "So far, nobody has pointed out such an issue. Corrective measures can be taken to display the information inside the station as well," he said.

The phone numbers of the autorickshaw drivers, who are part of the project, are as follows: 
1. Jaimon Joseph (KL-05-AM-2522) - 9947281445
2. Bijumon Matthew (KL-35-J-3526) - 9447497878
3. Sukumar P (KL-05-M-7520) - 9497088342
4. Rajesh Kumar (KL-67-B-9785) - 8075777132
5. Ramesh (KL-35-E-3302) - 9847515010

6. George Kurien (KL-05-AH-9554) - 9446203894
7. Sminu (KL-05-AG-0805) - 8848117527
8. Amal Joseph (KL-05-AC-4264) - 8848087323
9. Benoy (KL-05-AS-6215) - 9961477896
10. Prakashan (KL-05-AN-7629) - 9207281702

11. Abhilash (KL-05-AF-6240) - 9495665660
12. Ginumon (KL-05-AD-4839) - 9446135139
13. Sinaj (KL-05-AC-4302) - 9744240938
14. Shinu Vijayan (KL-05-AR-6974) - 9895481659
15. Sreejith (KL-05-AP5042) - 7510477967
16. Shyam (KL-05AE3739) - 9562166878
17. Praveen P (KL-05-AE-9298) - 9995422719

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