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Govt says will go ahead with free Metro rides for women

September 08, 2019 05:00 AM


Govt says will go ahead with free Metro rides for women

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the entire expense for free rides would be borne by the Delhi govt. HT file
Abhishek Dey

New Delhi : 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.

On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) 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 SC observations through the media. We cannot comment on that,” said Gahlot. “The entire expense incurred for free rides for women in the Metro will be borne by the Delhi government [through a proposed subsidy scheme] and not the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC),” he added.

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. 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 to the DMRC board, instead of bureaucrats. While the Centre objected to the nomination of political members in the board, the Delhi government maintains the rules allowed it. The matter is yet to be settled.

The proposal, 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, after 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.

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