The Delhi Metro has prepared a short-term and a long-term plan to execute the AAP government’s proposal for free travel for women, but with a rider — a fare fixation committee (FFC) constituted by the Centre will have to clear the plan.
Announcing the development Wednesday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal exuded hope that the FFC won’t be a hurdle in implementing the plan, which the Metro believes will take at least eight months to roll out in the short term. DMRC has sought Rs 1,506.4 crore from the government for this purpose.
“We have received a concrete proposal from them (DMRC). They have referred to two plans — one requires them to change their software, which they said will require time. After that is implemented, women will be able to use both tokens and smart cards. But there’s another stopgap arrangement — under which only tokens can be used by women willing to avail the offer,” Kejriwal told reporters.
Panel to fix fares
According to the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, commuting fares are to be decided by a fare fixation committee, a 3-member panel chaired by an existing or a retired HC judge and a representative each at level of Additional Secretary from Centre and state government. Its recommendations are binding on the Metro administration.
Under the short-term arrangement, as reported by The Indian Express on June 6, Metro will create separate counters and ticket vending machines (TVMs) for women who want to commute for free. At the counters and TVMs, they will be given tokens, for which the Metro will make payments. “They will also have separate entry gates but exit gates will be common. We believe it can be implemented very soon. DMRC has said they need at least eight months. At around 170 stations, they have discontinued sale of token via counters. But we will sit and discuss and hopefully be able to bring down the time required,” the CM said.
The number of women travellers, estimated at around 30 per cent of total Metro ridership, will go up by 50% due to the scheme, Kejriwal said, quoting from the DMRC proposal. On the money sought, Kejriwal said the government feels it is on the higher side, “but we don’t have any problem”.
He added: “There’s no reason why Centre will not form the committee. It will not have to clear the proposal but merely form the panel. And rules say the panel can be formed from time to time. We feel FFC is not required but they can go ahead if they want.”
To those opposing the proposal on the ground of gender equality, he asked: “Do we have gender equality in our country? We have female foeticides, boys are given preference in terms of education, only 30% women are travelling in the Metro.Out of the working population in Delhi, only 11% are women as against the national average of 26%. Whenever women are given opportunities, family incomes go up, new opportunities are created. It is good for the the country and society.”