Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) submitted a proposal regarding the implementation of the scheme making public transport free for women. "I want to share some good news with the women of Delhi. The DMRC has submitted a concrete proposal on our scheme to make public transport free for women. Two options have been proposed by them for implementation of this scheme," Kejriwal told media here.
"One is a longer-term plan that will take one year to implement and will involve changing the DMRC's software, tokens and cards. However, the second option is a shorter 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," he added. Although the DMRC stated that they need eight months to roll out this model, the state government believes they can work with DMRC officers and implement the scheme in the next two-three 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," Kejriwal said. Commenting on the financial commitment required for the scheme, Kejriwal said, "The DMRC has said it expects a 50 per cent increase in women ridership after the rollout 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."
Over the availability of funds with the government for this scheme, Kejriwal 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 Delhi Chief Minister also shared that the DMRC believes the approval of the Fare Fixation Committee will be needed for the rollout of the scheme.
When asked about whether the policy was discriminatory, 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 is enormous. It will boost their status as members of the workforce and boost the economy."
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)