People will soon have to dial just a single number '112' for help during emergency situations, such as availing services of police, ambulance and the fire department.
The proposal to have a single number for various emergency services, approved by the inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission, would be similar to the '911' all-in-one emergency service in the US.
All existing emergency numbers will be phased out within a year of rolling out 112, depending upon the awareness about this new facility.
"Telecom Commission has accepted Trai's recommendation on single emergency number 112. It will now be drafted by the Department of Telecom and will require Telecom Minister's (Ravi Shankar Prasad) approval. It will be rolled out within months rather than a year," an official source told PTI.
The source said the panel has accepted recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) after including clarifications given by it.
In India, different emergency communication and response systems are in place—police (100), fire brigade (101), ambulance (102) and Emergency Disaster Management (108).
Also, a number of states have notified various helpline numbers for assistance to special categories of citizens, like Woman in Distress—181 (Delhi), Missing Children and Women—1094 (Delhi), Crime Against Women—1096 (Delhi), Police Headquarter helpline—1090 (Uttar Pradesh), etc.
A person in distress will now need to call 112, which will direct the call to concerned departments immediately for help. The service will also be accessible even through those SIMs and landlines whose outgoing call facility has been stopped or temporarily suspended.
A user will be able to make communication even through SMS and the system will learn about the location of the caller that will be shared with the nearest help centre. The service will be operated by a call-centre like facility, which will have representatives speaking in Hindi, English and the local language.
Feature image source: PTI