Over the last two months, the AAP government in Delhi made a series of announcements to showcase its initiatives in the education sector, such as building more schools and classrooms. But it is yet to keep a promise that it made two years ago, during its short-lived first stint in power, to over 1 lakh students in the capital: free passes on buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
In February 2014, while the AAP was in power for 49 days, Education Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said the government had issued an order to provide free bus passes to students, and that the order had been communicated to DTC.
But last month, the DTC officially informed a petitioner under the RTI Act that it had not received any such order from the government till date.
In 2014, Sisodia had said: “We will give free DTC passes to all students to help alleviate their transportation costs. Some students had come into my office requesting me to look into DTC fares. That is why we decided to take this step.”
However, responding to the RTI application filed on June 27 by Aniket Gaurav, an RTI activist and student of Delhi University’s Hansraj College, seeking a “certified copy of the order”, the DTC stated: “No order received”.
Asked about “copies of documents or file notes including the correspondence exchanged between department of education and Delhi Transport Corporation”, it responded: “No”. Asked for a “status report of the order”, the reply was the same: “No”.
At present, the DTC provides monthly concession of up to Rs 150 per month for students travelling in non-AC buses and free passes to the disabled, freedom fighters, sportspersons (international), national awardees, war widows, MLAs and MPs of Delhi.
When IndianExpress.com contacted Sisodia to ask about the 2014 order, he declined to comment. The government’s media in-charge, Nagendra Sharma said, “There was no government in Delhi for a year, The order may not have been followed up.”
DTC’s Public Relations Officer R S Minhas said, “If the RTI states that no order has been communicated, I don’t think I need to confirm anything.”
A senior DTC official, who requested anonymity, said, “At this point, we have not received any communication from the government to give free passes to students.”
The RTI petitioner Aniket said he was among many students who got their hopes high when the then government decided to issue free passes to students to cut their transportation costs. But now, he added, students are disappointed with the lack of action.
“DTC has a provision to give bus passes to MPs and MLAs of Delhi who take away good salaries. But when it comes to students, there is no such provision to help mitigate their transportation costs,” he said.