Arvind Kejriwal: ‘Don’t need Centre’s nod for free Metro ride’

Arvind Kejriwal: ‘Don’t need Centre’s nod for free Metro ride’: Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced free rides in the Metro and buses for women. The decision, which is likely to cost the government approximately ₹1,600 crore this year, has been taken just a few months ahead of the assembly elections as the term of the Delhi government ends in February.

Eye on polls, AAP announces free rides for women in Metro, buses

Acknowledging the government had no concrete proposal to roll out the scheme at the moment, Kejriwal said it could take anywhere between two to three months until women will actually be able to avail a free bus or metro ride and have invited suggestions from the public about the implementation of the scheme.

Kejriwal said at a press conference, “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,”

He further added, “All this is not required as the Delhi government will be bearing all the cost of the subsidy. We are not making any changes in the existing fare structure. For the remaining part of the current fiscal, it is estimated that the scheme would cost the Delhi government anywhere between ₹700-800 crore.”

The chief minister also informed, “It has a lot of technicalities involved. So, I have asked the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to submit a detailed project proposal within a week. Then we will know better as to how it will be implemented.” The chief minister also said that the government is working on a voluntary model for the scheme, where travellers can opt out of the subsidy.

While the officials of the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC), which is a joint venture between the state and central governments, did not comment on the development, the DTC, which is directly under the Delhi government said it will begin preparing its proposal.

“In buses, implementing the scheme won’t be a problem. The conductor will just issue tickets to male passengers,” a DTC official said requesting anonymity.

A DMRC official, however, said that the proposal could face a hurdle if the Centre is not onboard. “The Centre and the Delhi government have 50% equity each in the Delhi Metro. As per the mandate, if the Delhi government wants to introduce a scheme, it will have to at least inform the Centre,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the AAP-led Delhi government and said the announcement was yet another lie. “It is a new lie by the Delhi government. They are saying that they will implement it in three months. What they could not do in so many months, what will they do now? If they really want to give relief to their residents in the last five months, the Kejriwal government should implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme,” said Manoj Tiwari, BJP Delhi unit chief, and Lok Sabha member.