Delhi Cabinet has approved free travel to female passengers in public transport buses effective from 29 October 2019. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said that a single journey pass will be available with the conductors for this purpose.
Women commuters will be able to get free rides using 'single-journey passes' to be available with the bus conductors. Those not willing to avail free ride may buy tickets," Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said in a press conference.
According to a statement, women employees of the Delhi government, local bodies and undertakings will not be entitled for transport allowance if they opt for free ride in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses.
"The departments, local bodies, autonomous bodies etc will take an undertaking from their women staff to the effect that they are not availing this free travel facility," it said.
The transport department will also write to the Ministry of Finance after implementation of the scheme, to consider issuing necessary instructions in this regard to all ministries, Central government departments and autonomous bodies in Delhi, the statement added.
The Delhi Assembly recently approved a supplementary grant of Rs 140 crore to facilitate free ride for women in buses for the current fiscal. The government will reimburse Rs 10 per single-journey pass, to the DTC and similar payment will be made in case of Cluster buses. Delhi Assembly has also approved a grant of Rs 150 crore for implementation of schemes in Metro trains.
"The Delhi Metro had said that a board meeting will be held on these issues, but has not mentioned when it will be held," Gahlot said when asked about progress in implementing the scheme in Metro trains.
The cabinet has directed the DTC to propose suitable amendments in DTC (Free & Concessional Passes) Regulations, 1985, if any, so that it could be be notified in the official gazette.
Both DTC and DIMTS will strengthen their ticket checking mechanisms prevent "misuse" and "pilferage" of single journey passes.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that rides on DTC and cluster buses will be free for them from October 29 in his Independence Day speech at Chhatrasal Stadium. Kejriwal had announced free rides for women in public transport buses and Delhi Metro in June. There are 5,500 buses, including of 3,800 of the Delhi Transport Corporation and over 1,600 cluster (orange) buses operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System.
"With this move, our sisters will be able to fulfil their dreams because they have to travel long distances for their studies and work," Kejriwal had said.
Speaking about those opposing his government's free ride scheme, the chief minister said, "Their first point was that everything is being made free. I want to say to them that I am not splurging or stealing money."
He added that it is the public's tax money which was earlier stolen and he has saved it to facilitate people. Kejriwal said he was being questioned by many on grounds of gender equality.
Asserting that there is no gender equality in the country, he said, "In Delhi's working population, women account for only 11 per cent while around 90 per cent are men."
"Currently, only 30 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men travel in public transport buses and metro trains. Our free ride scheme will significantly help women realise their dreams," he added.
Kejriwal had also said the scheme will strengthen the economy which is going through a slowdown as women will travel more for shopping.
(With PTI Inputs)