Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, while defending the free ride scheme for women, said that its “entire crux” will be “diluted” if it is restricted to women from the EWS category. He was responding to the Finance and Planning Department’s objections.
Gahlot wrote that as per government estimates, women ridership is likely to increase by up to 50 per cent in the next five years due to the waiver.
“It is reiterated that the scheme has nothing to do with the economic status of commuters. The scheme is based on a simple principle that larger number of women availing public transport would increase a sense of security and deter mischief mongers. The entire crux of the scheme will be diluted if it is restricted to economically weaker women only,” Gahlot wrote.
The finance department had recommended that the scheme should cover women from EWS/BPL/AAY background, so that only “deserving female passengers” avail of its benefits.
But Gahlot rejected the argument, asserting that other categories “cannot claim parity” with women.
“It has to be understood that the purpose of providing free travel facility to women is to encourage them to travel in public transport,” he wrote.
Gahlot had sent his note to Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia, who promptly approved it, following which it was placed before the Cabinet and cleared.
Gahlot also wrote: “It is accepted that there would be an increase in the female ridership in DTC and cluster buses… It is for this reason that the financial implications for the next five years have been worked out considering the rise in women passengers…”