Eyeing for the Assembly polls next year after losing all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the general election, the Aam Aadmi Party government, to woo women voters, has announced free public rides for women on June 3. The scheme will be rolled out in the next 2-3 months.
Daily, 7.5 lakh women commuters take the metro and 8.5 lakh women commuters take the bus service in Delhi.
“On all DTC buses, cluster buses and metro nations, women will be allowed to travel free of cost so that they safe travel experience and can access modes of transport which they were not able to, due to high prices,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. Chief Minister added that the scheme was tabled to enhance safe travel experience in Delhi.
Kejriwal explaining the scheme said that the subsidy is optional. He said that if a woman wants to pay for her ticket can pay and help others to benefit from the subsidy.
The motive behind the proposal is to encourage women to take public transport and also to help women who avoided public transport due to high prices, Kejriwal said.
The scheme is a proposal and has not been launched yet. It is likely to cost the Delhi government Rs 700 crore this year alone.
Delhi CM has given a week’s time to the Delhi government officials to table a detailed proposal to DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) and the Delhi Metro. He said that the Delhi government is trying to implement the proposal within the upcoming 2-3 months and is seeking suggestions from people regarding the implementation.
Though the Delhi government is confident about its proposal, Transport Department officials have pointed out that implementing free metro rides for women can be difficult as Centre and the Delhi government are 50:50 equity partners in the DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation).
Social Media Divided
Soon after the announcement, the social media was divided with each side listing pros and cons of the move, while some questioned the feasibility of the implementation.
Women in Delhi will get a free ride on buses and the metro. What a wonderful idea @ArvindKejriwal ! Will Mumbai emulate this? All the trouble we are going through for the construction of the metro will then be worth it.
— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) June 3, 2019
Delhi's finances have been improved substantially under kejriwal, it is a surplus state n can afford it. Besides 1000 cr is nothing compared to 5000 cr on Ads by govt. The money saved will boost disposable income n consumption n help economy of delhi.
— Pankaj Tiwari (@pkjtiwari) June 3, 2019
How will Delhi metro ensure that only women are getting free rides. Specialized cards? What if a man uses that card?
Will there be guards at entry point checking that only women are using it?
How will it work?
— Kunal (@kcunal) June 3, 2019
Didn't Delhi metro increased ticket prices last year to meet the maintenance cost ? Now imagine the only globally acknowledge modern infrastructure we have gonna let 40% consumers travel for free ? Makes sense ? I don't think so & I think I am feminist but not impractical.
— Pratap Mishra (@prat7u) June 3, 2019
Delhi Metro, bus rides to be for women in Delhi, CM Arvind Kejriwal announces – India News https://t.co/GuYS6F4dMR
— Arbab Ali (@ArbabAl25305813) June 3, 2019
BJP Hits Back
The BJP was quick to rebuff AAP’s announcement. Delhi BJP President, Manoj Tiwari in a press conference said that people of the capital are having a hearty laugh on the Delhi govt’s recent announcement.
He said that Kejriwal has lost grounds in Delhi, so he has started making false claims to mislead people. Tiwari, called Kejriwal as ‘ghosna mantri’ (announcement minister). Referring to Kejriwal’s previous promises, Tiwari asked about the 500 schools and free wifi that the government had promised.
“People must understand the lies of Arvind Kejriwal and should not come under the effect of his words. He has not done anything in five years, what will he do in 3 months. He has not allowed the implementation of Ayushman Bharat. I demand and request him that in your last months of rule implement Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana,” Tiwari said.
However, AAP’s south Delhi candidate Atishi Marlena defended the move and also answered some queries of the citizens on Facebook.
Athishi emphasized that the new proposal will make travel safe for women, and how the proposal will not overcrowd the metros.
How effective is AAP’s proposal of providing free rides to women can only judged after it’s implementation. Will the scheme encourage women to take public transport? Only time will tell.