With an eye on the Assembly elections, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government cleared Monday the proposal to make metro and bus travel free for women in the national capital. If the proposal is implemented this year, the move will cost the state government around Rs 700-800 crore, the Chief Minister said.
Addressing the media, the Aam Aadmi Party chief said the scheme will not be imposed on anyone and that women are free to purchase tickets if they want.
“The government has decided that women will be able to travel for free of cost in DTC, cluster buses and metro. Women who can afford, they are free to purchase tickets. And we will encourage those who can afford to purchase tickets. Have directed officers to prepare a proposal within a week. We will try to implement it in the next two-three months,” he said.
Kejriwal also dismissed fears that the decision to allow women to travel for free in the metro would result in congestion. “The projected ridership of metro was 40 lakh after the completion of Phase III. In March 2017, 28 lakh commuters used to take the metro. Now, around 25 lakh people take the transit daily. Clearly, there will be no congestion,” he said.
Taking on the central government for failing to take any steps against fares being hiked on Delhi Metro, the Chief Minister said, “The Centre did not pay heed to our objections against the fare hike. In this case, we will bear the burden.”
Welcoming the move, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “We consider this to be an investment on women safety.”
The move attracted strong criticism from BJP’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, who accused CM Kejriwal of making “hallow promises” to conceal his government’s “failings”.
Addressing a press conference after the announcement, Tiwari said: “In 52 months, they were not able to provide CCTV, WiFi, panic button and marshals in buses for women’s safety… This tacit to mislead public will no longer work.”