Women in Delhi will be allowed free travel in public buses and metros, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared on Monday. Nearly 30 percent of the 40 lakh commuters who travel in state-run buses are estimated to be women.
This would ensure that women can access modes of transport which they were not able to, due to high prices and ensure a safe travel experience, the Chief Minister stated.
The Chief Minister said the officials had been given a week to come up with a detailed plan on implementing the proposal. “We’re making an effort to start this within 2-3 months. We’re also seeking suggestions from people, regarding its implementation,” he stated.
“We consider this as an investment in enhancing women security”, Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia continued.
Kejriwal told the government would encourage women who can afford to pay for their travel not to take the subsidy.
“This subsidy will not be imposed on anyone. There are women who can afford these modes of transport… they can purchase tickets,” he said.
The announcement comes days after the Aam Aadmi Party suffered a sharp drop in its vote percentage in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections. Kejriwal’s party had later reasoned that this election was largely seen as a contest between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, a contest in which the AAP did not figure in competition.
Kejriwal denied that the government’s initiative had anything to do with the election outcome. “There is no auspicious time for a good decision,” he stated, describing it as part of continuing efforts by the city government to reduce the cost of living and improve the quality of life.
The chief minister recalled that the state government had asked the Centre not to raise metro fare and later, offered to share the subsidy burden so that the fare hike did not discourage people from using the metro. “But they didn’t agree. Now, the Delhi government to it on its own…. We don’t need to take approval for this,” he stated.
The chief minister had recently spoken of the AAP government’s request to the city’s power regulator for a reduction of fixed charges in electricity tariffs. If the government’s directions are accepted by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, it would mean a possible reduction in their power bills once the annual tariff revision is announced, he replied.
The monthly fixed charges were raised for domestic consumers having up to 2 KW load from Rs 20 to Rs 125. The Delhi government provides subsidy to such consumers. However, in other categories, consumers pay higher fixed charges. The hike in fixed charges for other slabs was — for 2-5 kW, from Rs 35 to Rs 140; 5-15 KW, Rs 45 to Rs 175; 15-25 kW, from Rs 60 to Rs 200; and for more than 25 KW, from Rs 100 to Rs 250.