The Delhi Metro has sought “advance subsidy money” from the Delhi government to roll out the scheme exempting women from paying fares, which the corporation plans to implement in the short term by making tokens mandatory for those wishing to avail the offer.
On its part, the Delhi government, in a letter to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Managing Director Mangu Singh, has sought details of the financial impact of the scheme for the present year, “as well as the next five years, considering the increase in ridership due to the decision”.
The transport department has been directed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to put up a Cabinet note on the proposal by June 11. The first meeting on the issue involving the DMRC, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd (DIMTS) was held Thursday.
Official sources told The Indian Express that the DMRC, in a detailed power-point presentation to the Transport Commissioner Thursday, offered short- and long-term plans to execute the proposal.
“The DMRC said it needs at least a year to properly implement the proposal. They have an alternative for implementation in the next two-four months though. In this case, they have proposed that women wishing to avail the offer get tokens from counters for which they will not be charged. So the DMRC will also be able to keep count of women availing the facility and the cost incurred. But DMRC wants the subsidy money to be paid in advance,” sources said.
Kejriwal said the Delhi government will give around Rs 700-800 crore as total subsidy to the DMRC, DTC and DIMTS if the exemption scheme is rolled out for around six months in 2019.
The DMRC also conveyed that since it has largely scrapped the over-the-counter sale of tokens, it will have to “assess the cost involved in augmenting capacity of counters”. In the long term, the DMRC plans to integrate smart cards and biometric identification, which is already in the works to offer rebates to senior citizens and students, sources added.
Explained | Free rides, fare perspective
The DTC and the management of the cluster buses, meanwhile, have proposed that special women passes or colour-coded tickets be introduced to implement the proposal.
In its letter to the DMRC MD, the Delhi government has also sought details of technical feasibility, timeline for implementation, and challenges and modalities involved. In this regard, Singh had a series of meetings with Delhi government ministers at the Delhi Secretariat Thursday.
DMRC has been told that since the execution of the latest proposal will not lead to any changes in its fare structure, the Delhi government — which is an equal equity partner in DMRC along with the Centre — was well within its rights to implement the proposal, more because it has also promised to offer full subsidy.
As per the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, commuting fares are to be decided by a fare fixation committee.
“The recommendations made by the fare fixation committee shall be binding on the Metro railway administration,” the Act states.