DELHI (Metro Rail News): The Delhi government will go ahead with its proposal to make Metro rides free for women in the national capital and they are awaiting a meeting with the Delhi Metro body on the issue at the earliest, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said on Saturday.
The Supreme Court had observed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi should refrain from giving “freebies” from “public money”, referring to its free-Metro ride proposal, as such initiatives do not go hand-in-gloves with claims of the network potentially suffering losses.
“We have learnt about the Supreme Court observations through the media. We cannot comment on that,” said Gahlot. He further said, “But the entire expense incurred for free rides for women in Delhi Metro will be borne by the Delhi government [through a proposed subsidy scheme] and not the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).”
When asked about the present status of the proposal, he said, “We are awaiting a board meeting with the DMRC on the issue at the earliest. But for that, there has to be clear decision on the board members first. Once that happens, the agenda on free rides for women in the Metro will be tabled,” Gahlot said.
The DMRC has a 17-member board. The Delhi and central governments nominate five members each, while the rest are officials from within the Metro body, and experts appointed by the DMRC.
In July, the Delhi government ran into a stand-off with the Centre after the former nominated members of the ruling AAP as directors in the Delhi Metro’s board, instead of bureaucrats. While the Centre objected to the nomination of political members in the board, the Delhi government maintains that it is allowed under the rules. The matter is yet to be settled.
The proposal for free rides for women, announced by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in June, has also been halted. Senior officials in the DMRC said they had raised several red flags and are awaiting another report from the government, following which the proposal is likely to be sent to a fare fixation committee.
In the Delhi Assembly last month, the government had allocated ₹150 crore for the scheme. The government argued that if the scheme gets clearance before the end of the financial year, its implementation should not be delayed for lack of funds.
A similar scheme on free rides for women in Delhi buses is set to take off from October 29 this year.