Private security guards are to be deployed at the gates of over 500 civic agency-run primary schools in Delhi to tackle rising incidences of harassment and molestation of girl students, an official has said.
"We have planned to deploy private security guards, from government-approved agencies, in primary schools by the next academic year after several cases of molestation came to our notice," Manish Gupta, commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, told IANS.
The guards would be deployed at the 548 primary schools - till Class 6 - in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) territory. The girls are between the ages five to 13 and too young to tackle roadside molesters.
"The deployment will be done in phases, and will cover every school which falls under the area of SDMC," he said.
The yearly cost of the project is estimated to be Rs.1 crore, the official said.
"We have received several complaints from parents of girls regarding molestation taking place outside the school premises, due to which they stopped sending their child to school," Mr Gupta said.
"We are taking this step in order to draw the girl students back to school," he added.
"Men loiter outside schools in order to molest and harass the girls... some even follow them... This makes the girls afraid of going to school," said the mother of a 12-year-old girl who lives in Delhi's Khanpur area. Many of the civic agency-run schools are located in crowded poor neighbourhoods.
If the project is successful, it would be replicated in all the schools falling under the three municipal corporations - the other two being East and North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the official added.
"The security guards will be hired from private security agencies on contract basis," he said.
"They will keep an eye on the girls entering and leaving the school. If required, they will also escort the girls to their houses," added Mr Gupta.
Satish Upadhyay, chairperson of the SDMC's education committee, welcomed the move.
"We want to ensure fool proof security for the girl students. The security guards will be hired from government approved security agencies," Mr Upadhyay told IANS.
The details of the project are to be worked out, he added.
Delhi has 18,000 municipal-run schools with over 10 lakh students, both boys and girls. The 548 schools in South MCD have around five lakh students.
In 2010, the MCD had decided to install CCTV cameras in and outside school premises in order to tackle harassment of students. The CCTV cameras were installed in some schools at the time.