India’s new single emergency number ‘112’ will be operational from January 1, 2017. People can use this service even if the call facility on their cellphone or landline has been barred temporarily. At present, there are multiple emergency number available to a citizen in need - police (100), fire brigade (101), ambulance (102) and Emergency Disaster Management (108). The government plans to phase out the other emergency numbers within a year if the new number catches on.

"Telecom operators have been asked to direct all emergency calls to 112. The process to direct calls made on to 112 to concerned departments is being worked out," a senior government official told PTI. People will be able to communicate through SMS using this number. The system will locate the person in distress and forward the information to the help centre nearest to the caller.

In March, the Telecom Commission had accepted the recommendation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to make 112 the number for all emergency services in the country, including police, fire brigade and ambulance in an attempt to help people reach emergency services immediately.