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The recent abduction of the Snapdeal employee Dipti Sarna has brought the perilous public transport system — especially shared autos — of Noida and Ghaziabad into sharp focus. It is time the government pulled up its socks.

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In the absence of a safe public transport network, commuters in Noida and Ghaziabad are left with little option but to depend on the cities’ capricious shared auto service. And in the light of the recent Dipti Sarna case — the 24-year-old Snapdeal executive who was kidnapped on her way home from the Vaishali Metro Station to Ghaziabad while in a shared auto — this loophole in the city’s security fabric has left female commuters feeling even more vulnerable. The incident seems to have stirred the authorities into action. There is now talk of tagging autos, launching women’s safety apps and streamlining of women-only autos. However, there has been no effort to amp up public transport and peg a certain accountability on auto drivers.  

The numerical coding of Noida autos has revealed that 40 per cent of autos in Noida run without a licence. This lack of government verification not only poses a threat to passengers — men in general and women in particular — during the day but presents a particularly nightmarish scenario at night. In the Dipti Sarna case, the auto in which she was kidnapped managed to give police the slip even on a busy and heavily manned stretch in Ghaziabad.

The city’s bus service doesn’t help either. With inefficient intra-city transport and no Metro line beyond Vaishali, the autos, shared or otherwise, have a field day, hiking fares and refusing to comply with commuter requests. And when on the road, traffic rules become mere scribblings on paper. Bursting at the seams with passengers, the autos speed, overtake and swerve with little thought to public or passenger safety. But police and traffic officials, who are primarily entrusted with this responsibility, stand oblivious. Is it only a tragedy that will make them sit up and take notice?

It is ironical that a government that wants people to switch to public transport does not have a comprehensive solution for public safety in place. The people have suffered for far too long. It is time for the officials to pull up their socks before another Dipti Sarna goes missing — and fails to give the media a happy ending.