Center Rejects Free Metro Ride Idea, Delhi Govt. To Bear Cost Alone
The Central government on Thursday rejected Delhi government’s proposal to make metro and bus ride free for women in the city. Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri denied having any proposal regarding the same in Lok Sabha after Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy asked him about the same during the on-going Budget Session of Parliament.
“Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in Lok Sabha denies that Union Government has any proposal for free rides for women in Delhi Metro, the question was asked by TMC MP Saugata Roy,” the news agency ANI reported.
The initiative, announced by the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to make commuting in public transport accessible for women, is estimated to cost around 1600 crore rupees to fund the fare exemption, claimed Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Many people believe that this move by the Delhi government is politically motivated as it comes right before the Delhi assembly elections in 2020.
“The safety of women is the most important thing for the AAP government. Keeping this in mind, the government has decided that in Delhi all Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses and the Metro will be free for women so that the maximum number of women can use public transport. This is said to be the safest for women. They are not able to use these services also because of the increase in Metro fares,” Kejriwal said in a press conference on June 2.
“We don’t need the centre’s permission for this. The Delhi government will bear the cost of this. The cost for the remaining six months will be ₹700-800 crore,” he added.
DMRC has sought at least eight months’ time to make necessary preparations, including seeking approval from the fare-fixation committee. Metro Man E Sreedharan wrote a letter to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in which he urged the Kejriwal government to “not destroy” the efficient and successful public transport system for electoral gains.
“We don’t need the centre’s permission for this. The Delhi government will bear the cost of this. The cost for the remaining six months will be ₹700-800 crore”
“I am not opposing Delhi government’s proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women but objecting only to the concept of free travel in a metro. If we allow free travel for women, what about more deserving categories such as students, disabled persons and senior citizens?” he argued in the letter.
Apart from making public transport free for women, the Delhi government is also contemplating installing hooters with speakers in new DTC buses. Every DTC bus will have at least 10 such panic buttons which once pressed will start a siren in the bus alerting the rest of the passengers of any crime happening in the bus. It will also make the bus stop and alert the nearby police station of the crime.
Picture credit- Sanjeev Rastogi