Delhi Metro’s former chief E Sreedharan gave the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s proposed free travel scheme for women in Delhi metros a thumbs down and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to oppose the proposal as it would set “alarming precedence”.
Seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention in the matter, the ‘Metro Man’ wrote a letter to Modi and said if the Delhi government was “so keen” to help women commuters, it can pay the cost of their travel directly to them rather than making travel free on metro rails.
“I would very earnestly request you sir, not to agree to the Delhi government’s proposal of free travel to ladies in the Metro. If the Delhi government is so keen to help lady commuters, I would suggest Delhi government can pay directly to the lady commuters the cost of their travel rather than make travel free on the Metro,” Sreedharan said in the letter.
The former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief asserted that when the first section of the Delhi Metro was about to be opened in 2002, he had taken a firm decision that no one would be given travel concession. He said that even the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had bought a ticket to travel during the inauguration of the first section of the metro.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government, earlier this month, had announced that it had proposed a scheme to make commute for women free in public buses and metro trains.
“Now, if ladies are to be given free travel concession in Delhi Metro, it would set an alarming precedence to all other metros in the country. The argument of the Delhi government that the revenue losses would be reimbursed to the DMRC is a poor solace,” Sreedharan said.
The DMRC is a joint venture of the Centre and the Delhi government, and one shareholder cannot take an unilateral decision to give concession to one section of the community and push the Delhi Metro in to “inefficiency and bankruptcy,” Sreedharan said. He added that even officers and staff, including the managing director of the DMRC, purchase tickets when they travel on the metro on official duties.
The AAP government, which has been receiving varied responses from different corners on the scheme, is chalking out a way on how to implement the scheme without causing a hassle to the commuters. Meanwhile, Delhi government Friday also announced the formation of a task force to ensure the safety of female commuters in public transport.
The DMRC, while estimating the costs to ensure hassle-free implementation of the suggested scheme, said a separate token policy for women beneficiaries will cost at least Rs 90 crore, whereas launching special smart cards will need at least Rs 126 crore to execute. The Metro has further said that both schemes come with a “high risk of misuse”.