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Metro free travel for women to cost Rs. 1550 crore annually, DMRC submits proposal to Delhi govt

Metro free travel for women to cost Rs. 1550 crore annually, DMRC submits proposal to Delhi govt

New Delhi, Jun 12 (UNI) A week after announcing the Delhi government’s proposal for free rides to women in Delhi Metro and buses, Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced that the DMRC has submitted a concrete proposal on implementing the Delhi Government's scheme which would entail a financial commitment of about Rs. 1550 crore per year

Giving details of the DMRC’s proposal, Mr Kejriwal said that two options have been proposed by them for implementation of the scheme.

``One is a long term plan that will take one year to implement and will involve changing of the DMRC’s software, tokens and cards. However, the second option is a short term, stop gap arrangement. As per this model, women shall be able to purchase tokens at ticket windows and automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) by simply sharing their destination. There will be a separate entry gate for women with this token, but their exit gates will remain common. The DMRC will not need to change their software.'

'Although the DMRC says they need eight months to roll out this model, we believe we can work with them and implement the scheme in the next 2-3 months. Only two steps need to be taken by the DMRC - special tokens need to be printed and in 170 stations where ticket windows have been shut, they need to be reopened. We do not think these steps will take more than 2-3 months,' the Chief Minister said.

Commenting on the financial commitment required for the scheme, Mr Kejriwal said, 'The DMRC has said it expects a 50 per cent increase in women ridership after the roll out of this scheme, which means 45-50 per cent of the ridership will be women. This will mean a total financial commitment of Rs 1566.64 crore. Delhi government has no objections with this. Operationally, the Delhi government will pay the DMRC whatever is the actual cost it incurs. Whether it is our projection or the DMRC’s, the payments will be finally based on the actual usage of the subsidy.'

Addressing questions on the availability of funds with the government for this scheme, the Chief Minister said, 'Four and a half years ago, the people of Delhi elected an honest government, which has increased revenues and runs in surplus without increasing a single tax in its term. We have saved your hard earned money and are using it to provide the maximum benefit back to the people. We have made this financial arrangement for the empowerment and security of women. The Delhi government will give a commitment to the DMRC that the subsidy will be provided by the government similar to the subsidy paid by the government for electricity and water.'

The Chief Minister also shared that the DMRC believes the approval of the Fare Fixation Committee will be needed for the rollout of the scheme. 'The Fare Fixation Committee should ordinarily not be required in this case because this is not a matter of fare fixation. However, if the DMRC thinks it is necessary, we will go ahead with it.'

When asked about whether the policy was discriminatory, Mr Kejriwal said, 'To those who say this policy is against gender equality, I ask - Do we have gender equality in this country to begin with? We do not live in a country that treats women at par with men. Only 30 per cent of the Metro ridership is women. Women form only 11 per cent of Delhi’s workforce, whereas the national average is 24 per cent. This needs to change. The kind of opportunities that will open up for women if their travel becomes free are enormous. It will boost their status as members of the workforce and boost the economy.'

UNI NY/ VT 2047

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