Arvind Kejriwal announces plan to make Metro rides, DTC bus travel free for women; BJP calls it a bait for voters

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that to ensure the safety of women, the Delhi government has proposed for free rides for them on the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and other cluster buses, as well as the Delhi Metro.

The expensed of the proposed scheme will be fully borne by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, Kejriwal said in a press conference in the capital. "On all DTC buses, cluster buses and metro trains, women will be allowed to travel free of cost so that they have safe travel experience and can access modes of transport which they were not able to, due to high prices," he said.

The move, which is yet to be cleared by requisite authorities, will cost the Delhi government approximately Rs 700 to 800 crore for the remaining of the year.

The chief minister, however, said that the subsidy will not be imposed on anyone as the scheme will be voluntary, and those who can afford their travel will be encouraged to do so. "There are several women who can afford these modes of transport. Those who can afford can purchase tickets, they needn't take subsidy. We encourage those, who can afford, to buy tickets and not take subsidy so that others could benefit," Kejriwal said.

He, however, denied that the government’s initiative had anything to do with the Lok Sabha election outcome and the upcoming Delhi Assembly election in 2020. “There is no auspicious time for a good decision,” he said, describing it as part of continued efforts by his government to provide maximum facilities to people at lowest costs. He said that the government's latest move will encourage the use of public transport, which is the 'safest' for women.

 Arvind Kejriwal announces plan to make Metro rides, DTC bus travel free for women; BJP calls it a bait for voters

Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia address a press conference. Image courtesy: Twitter @AamAadmiParty

The Delhi government has estimated that a minimum of 30-33 percent of Delhi women commute by the metro and buses each, out of40 lakh people — which is the total ridership of the DTC buses, he said.

The DMRC and the DTC have been given a week's time to prepare a detailed proposal for the same, as the government looks to roll-out the scheme in the next two to three months, Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal also asked for people's suggestion on the scheme and asked them to mail the feedback at: delhiwomensafety@gmail.com or write to the chairman of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, an advisory body of the AAP government.

Apart from this, the chief minister also announced that around 2,80,000 CCTV cameras would be installed across the city by December and the work will start from June itself. He also said that a total of 1.5 lakh cameras would be installed in various government schools of the city by November.

The chief minister also announced that the government is in the process of procuring new buses for the state and 20-25 new buses will be added to the existing fleet by month-end. Similarly, 10-12 will be added each month thereafter and therefore, about 3,000 physical delivery of buses will be made possible by the government by next year, all of which will have CCTV cameras installed in them.

He further said that all DTC buses have a security martial seated among the passengers and despite their availability, women commuters are often not aware of their presence. Thus, to ensure that women can take their help, in case of need, posters will be pasted in all buses highlighting their existence.

Kejriwal clarified that the state government doesn't need Centre's permission for the implementation of these schemes and that the entire financial burden is being taken care of the Delhi government alone.

While reiterating the AAP government's work regarding reducing the water and electricity bills of people and providing quality education in government schools and free services in mohalla clinics, Kejriwal said that the government will call an additional budget session to see through the implementation of this new proposed scheme.

Meanwhile, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that their government believes that public transport is an investment for the welfare of the people and therefore this a step in that direction taken specifically with regards to women safety. “We consider this as an investment in enhancing women security,” Sisodia said.

Soon after, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also held a press conference led by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari to discredit Kejriwal's plan as a 'false promise' only done to lure voters ahead of the Assembly election. Tiwari said the chief minister hasn't implemented the central government's Ayushman Bharat scheme in the capital city, not it allowed for the provision of 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections of the general category, until recently, after receiving the drubbing in Lok Sabha election.

He also pointed out that there has been no new addition of schools, despite the state government's promise of building 500 new schools and the promises of free wifi; and security martials in all buses, have also been unsuccessful, Tiwari alleged.

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Tiwari said that the citizens of Delhi are 'wise' and will reject this appeasement politics of the AAP government which nothing but another false rhetoric of Kejriwal whom he termed — 'ghoshna mantri' (announcement minister).

Tiwari claimed that even the BJP is in the process of finalising a public transport system where citizens wouldn't have to pay for bus rides, but they won't announce it until everything is finalised. He also questioned how the AAP government is planning to make rides free for approximately 1.25 crore women of Delhi despite only 3,500 to 3,800 buses currently in service against the requirement of around 2,000.

Calling Kejriwal the "shikari ghoshna mantri", Tiwari said that people should expect more such sops in the coming days as the chief minister is looking trap voters with pre-poll sops. The BJP MP took a dig at Kejriwal by alleging that among his other promises, the Delhi chief minister had also promised to install panic buttons in all public buses, but, instead he himself is getting panicked now. He mocked the latest announcement by saying that the next thing the AAP government will do is to station a bus outside every citizen's house, which will take them through the city and then drop them back as per their wish.

Tiwari said that the chief minister has lost his sanity ("mansik santulan gadbad ho gaya hai") and therefore, instead of accepting his defeat in the recent polls he shrugged it off it by saying that AAP was never in the competition as the general election was actually a fight between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, even though he had earlier claimed that his party will win all seven seats in the capital.

He has earlier also done "70 vaade, (and said) 74 jhooth", Tiwari said taking a barb at Kejriwal and appealed to the people of Delhi to not let the latter "buy votes"  through such tricks. He urged the voters to chose BJP — which has been kept out of Delhi government for 24 years now — as the main issues the city is grappling with have been sidelined, Tiwari claimed citing problems of pollution, sewer management, water crisis.

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 12:44:34 IST