NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): Calling Delhi government’s plan to allow free travel to women in Delhi Metro an election gimmick, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan has told deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia that if the government is flush with cash, it should help Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) get more trains and build new lines instead of subsidizing free travel.
The former managing director of DMRC had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to agree to the proposal. Reacting to that letter Sisodia had written to Sreedharan, stating that he was “surprised and pained” by the view. He also requested Sreedharan to reconsider his stand as DMRC was running 65% below its capacity.
“Your letter dated 14.06.2019 addressed to me has not so far been received, but I got a copy from the media,” Sreedharan wrote in the letter to Sisodia dated June 20.
“Everybody knows this is an election gimmick to win votes of women in the next assembly election,” he wrote, adding that he is against the very idea of allowing free travel to any section till the loans taken by DMRC, of which Rs 35,000 crore is still outstanding, are paid back. “Your government may compensate DMRC but successor governments may not. DMRC will not then be able to reverse and charge women commuters.”
Sreedharan said the AAP government’s decision would set “alarming precedence” for other metro services, which also carry heavy debt burdens at a time when their growth rate was slow. “I am not opposing Delhi government’s proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women but objecting only to the concept of free travel in a metro.”
If the Delhi government is so concerned about women, it can reimburse their cost of travel directly to them, suggested Sreedharan. The money that will be used as the subsidy is taxpayers’ money and they have a right to question why only women are being given free travel, he added. “If we allow free travel for women, what about more deserving categories such as students, disabled persons, senior citizens?” Dismissing Sisodia’s claim that the metro is utilizing only 65% of its capacity, Sreedharan wrote that the system was so heavily crowded during the peak hours hat even with trains running every two minutes, commuters found it difficult to board for lack of space.
Allowing free travel to women will only worsen the situation, he pointed out.